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Don’t be a sensitive designer


I found this expression in Mike Niemann’s book «Sweet Spot UX».


Hey-hey! 🖖🏻

I am a UX designer. I have been working in the product team for 5 years. This is my experience. I love books about product teams / UX / Research. And it seems like all the rules and laws are already written, I don’t feel like I need to write anything else about it, and there are tons of brilliant books that will tell about it better than I do. I decided to write about internal challenges and external ones.

This article has recommendations for books that I have used in my work and life. If anyone is familiar with them, I would be happy to know what you think in the comments.

What you will find out

I know that my article can help a designer who spends a lot of time working and not feeling his or her growth. This article has some tips on how to start building your soft skills.
Here we go! 🔥

What do soft skills have to do with it?

So, an important part of our profession is to ask meaningful questions — for what? why? These are very important questions, because there is a business that needs revenue, there is the productivity of man-hours, which turns into money. BUT, some things don’t need such questions, like when we talk about creativity or feelings. And our feelings also affect our work. So what should we do in that case?

We all know about hard skills and soft skills. When I started out as a designer, I spent a lot of time on hard skills: studying typography, using Figma, researching methodology, etc. When you’re busy doing such complicated things, do you care about developing empathy, open-mindedness, the art of negotiation? And then there came a point where I was already confident in using the tools, but I didn’t feel satisfied with my work, didn’t feel I was growing.
But it just happened that I started to study using both yoga and psychotherapy myself and I noticed that the better I understood myself, the easier the work process was. I became well aware that career development is closely linked to personal growth. Especially in the design industry, because design that is meant to make people’s lives more pleasant, more comfortable, more interesting and simply more beautiful, requires a little more from a designer than just working professionally with tools, methodology and images. For example, you need empathy, because you have to know your user. You have to feel them. Patience and perseverance to do research or build a UI kit.

Some people believe that there is a talent that helps some people move up quickly. On the other hand, I am an advocate of the idea that talent is hard work. And in this case, soft skills are much more important than one might think. It’s a very tricky thing, because sometimes soft skills are much harder to develop than hard skills.

I don’t believe that a high level of soft skills is a one-size-fits-all system. I believe that this system is unique to everyone. We shouldn’t aspire to become sociable, fun and public. Because a lot of things are built-in us since childhood. It’s like the main challenge in developing soft skills comes down to being who you are. Even if you’re too introverted, there’s nothing wrong with that. You can find your place in a team if you know yourself and your personality. When you are at ease with yourself, it is much easier to work with a team.

Superpower 🔮

I’m not going to invent a new word for things that already exist. We have egos and fears and many more subtle beliefs of the soul. I want to combine everything into one term. I will call it superpower. Egos and fears are only as much of a barrier to our lives and development as they are to our identity. It would be foolish to simply fight them or suppress them, because there are many mechanisms hidden in them that are useful for us and our growth. And there is a useful book about it. The ego is the enemy (a book for everyone).

Some notes from yoga

In yoga there is a description of states of mind that lead us to a certain way of perception. I will try to adapt them to our conditions. And it can help you keep track of your mind states.

  • Ego.When we go along with the ego and think we are the best designers, we become very sensitive to criticism and unable to adequately perceive it. Do we need to explain how this prevents us from becoming better designers?

  • Habits.We are used to solving a problem in a certain way because we did it well the last time. We use a habitual pattern again in a process that may require a completely different approach. It can also be described as a desire to keep success to ourselves. But we are alive, we make mistakes and we need to accept that at some point.

  • Fear.This is the opposite of the previous states, when we are afraid of doing something that we failed to do last time. We are afraid of repeating the scenario and we distance ourselves from the process in advance. But perhaps in this situation, the conditions are already very different and we might find a way to approach it.

  • Destiny.This is the most mysterious aspect. It sounds like destiny. A process that we have no control over. We work in big teams, where at any moment things can turn out differently than we want them to. By running it through the filter of meaningful questions, we can see if we can influence it and for what purpose. And when a situation happens where there is no point in influencing and nothing will change, we should go along with it.

Where do I start?

Self-examination is the beginning of the journey. It is important to make it a habit. And for it to become a habit, you need to be careful about the process and not overdo it.

  • Choose a time.let it be any time you feel comfortable with.And make it as often as you feel comfortable.This process should be approached calmly and without fanaticism. For a start, you can sit down once a week (on Friday for example) and resume your work.

  • Analyse yourself.Write down for example 5 good and bad moments. Then ask questions and describe why this was bad and this was good.What did you like or didn’t like about yourself?What did you like or didn’t like about you around you?With the bad things, you have to think about how you would like it to be?Why would you like it to be?Make notes on what to pay attention to.

  • Set the tasks.But just a little, so it doesn’t take too much time and it’s kind of the background. And the same as every week.Make a habit of it. Make mistakes. You can grow through mistakes.

Why does it matter?

I think this is very important not only for you, but for the team as a whole. What happens after the workshops and brainstorming sessions depends on it. Whether brilliant ideas will be produced and published, or whether everything will be lost, time will be wasted, and team members will have a few days of frustration after the rally. All of this is important. It’s important for everyone. As long as you’re alive, you have to take the time to suddenly go into a bout of reflection and you need to find the answers within yourself. It’s like hygiene.

One last thing

Our weaknesses hide our strengths. That’s why I call it a superpower. You have to trust yourself. Be free with yourself. Strive for balance in everything. That helps me. But we are all different and everyone has a different balance. We have to grow a sense of our own balance. This is the foundation on which we will put our soft skills.

I wish you excellent ideas and interactions. 
And as a bonus, I recommend listening to Tycho’s new release: 
Let’s go to work and make the world a better place.🌎✨

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