Quite often people mention being a good communicator and able to balance communications efficiently. Some people think that it means being polite and able to speak adequately — things any decent human should be able to do 🙂
In my opinion balancing communications means:
- Keep good reputation while resolving conflicts;
- Make communications efficient and constructive;
- Stay cool blooded. Do not neglect emotions but remember that they are a tool in communication with people. Think what you want to achieve with a certain emotion, don’t manifest yourself to coworkers;
- Be empathetic and analyze a situation from different angles.
Apart from an obvious reason that a UX Designer has to conduct researches and talk to users, the same applies for collaboration within a company. I’ve seen awesome designs not implemented because developers didn’t feel comfortable communicating to a designer. I’ve seen designs implemented not correctly because there was no feedback loop in the development process for a designer to see the results — familiar, hah? A designer can create a good UX, but a great UX can be created only by inter department collaboration.
Here are some common challenges I face as a UX Designer and how I resolve them.
Balancing communications as a UX Designer is…
Instead of burning developers for not getting the UI specifications right over and over again:
- Don’t cry 🙂
- Explore how developers interact with your designs and specifications to get the settings — fix pitfalls in the process if any; make information easily discoverable and accessible; talk the same language;
- Educate people about UX and explain your design decisions;
- Give some ownership of UX to make them feel responsibility and pride for good implementations.
Instead of slapping a coworker for shouting at you in an open space:
- Give some time for the situation to cool down;
- Drink a coffee with a manager discussing this issue;
- Drink another coffee with a team lead discussing this issue;
- Discuss this issue with two of them;
- Make sensible action points to avoid such issues in future if possible.
Instead of facepalming because a stakeholder often brings updates to crucial requirements over and over:
- Often stakeholders have to work with assumptions to push a product forward. It is no wonder they may struggle with uncertainty in their past decisions. Be a reliable person who can help to discuss and test the assumptions, which led to a decision of requirements update;
- Discuss new requirements with a PO/DM;
- Analyze scope of these requirements, effect on the system, cost/value proportion;
- Bring this analysis to the PO/DM and let him decide whether to take new requirements to work.
Instead of agreeing to all design suggestions from coworkers:
- Stand your ground and be able to explain each and every design decision;
- Backup your design decisions with research and best practices;
- Be open minded — your coworkers are smart people and some suggestions are worth trying!
- Find your way to relax in a stressful situation before taking an action;
- If possible take some time before an action;
- Reframe an assumption “a person is incompetent and evil” to “a person is smart and might have reasons for that”;
- Find your way to release accumulated stress and muscle tension.
Work conflicts mostly take root in miscommunication and lack of understanding for the other person’s goals. I wish you all to be more active in putting your thoughts and suggestions out there and be willing to discuss them with genuine respect for others opinions.