A Case for Single-Tasking
Mindfulness is quite a popular buzzword these days, ranging from its roots in Buddhism to meditation to work/life balance. There are many scientific studies demonstrating how mindfulness positively impacts your health in a variety of ways, such as reducing blood pressure, anxiety, depression and stress. By focusing our attention and awareness on the present moment, including any thoughts or feelings that arise, we are able to be more mindful of what is happening in a given moment. To me, one way I describe mindfulness is “single-tasking.”
What does this have to do with user research?
Before I begin a research session, I close my eyes, take a few deep breaths and focus my attention on my breathing. I get a sense of thoughts bouncing around my head, such as needing to write an email or thinking about what I’m eating for dinner. I will write down thoughts (usually a to-do list), such as writing the email, in my notebook so they don’t continue to pester me while I’m trying to conduct a session, and I will gently acknowledge and let go of any additional thoughts and feelings. This is similar to (and sometimes combined with) another exercise where I write down my assumptions and potential biases before a session.
I try to walk into every research session with a relatively blank mind. This doesn’t mean I am an emotionless black hole of a human, but, instead of being swept away to the magical realm of rumination, I am focused on the users and their ruminations. This process allows me to “single-task,” which increases my ability to empathize with users, in the moment, and fosters a better environment for deep understanding.
5 ways practicing mindfulness can impact your research sessions:
- Allowing you to listening deeply: By letting go of your thoughts, you are able to focus on what the user is saying. Instead of being caught up thinking about an email you forgot to write earlier, you are more able to direct your attention to what is being said and understanding the why behind user’s thoughts and feelings.
- Being in the present moment: I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give someone is our undivided attention. Being in the moment means focusing on the here and now, and paying really close attention to what is being said. We are really understanding what users are saying as opposed to forming our next thought or question while the person is still talking. This skill is essential in building true empathy and compassion.
- More easily understanding others: You, as the researcher, have a responsibility to understand what is being said by a user. One really great way to test this is to try to reiterate what’s being said to you, in their language. If a user is speaking with you about a complex subject, or they simply lost you, instead of nodding and agreeing, you can say, “Okay, you mentioned X and I’m not sure I understand, could you explain that again?” In order to do this, you will need to ensure you are paying attention and practicing deep listening.
- Coming from a place of non-judgment/bias: Most researchers know part of their job is to remove bias and judgment from research sessions, but bias and judgment can, often, sit more deeply in the subconscious. Mindfulness allows us to be more aware of these thoughts, which prompts us to write them down on paper before we walk into the session, essentially, clearing our mind. Even if a user’s needs or goals seems small, they could be that person’s entire world, and we will avoid trivializing or glossing over these potential insights.
- Not taking it personally: Who cares if users hate the product? You shouldn’t. By being mindful of our reactions, we are able to stop ourselves from shutting down during a session, or avoiding certain areas, because a user said something less than ideal. Not only will it be easier to receive feedback, but it will also improve your ability to share insights without skewing the message.
So, before stepping into your next user research interview: close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, let go of those thoughts swirling in your mind, write down your to-do list, record your biases/assumptions and be mindful of your user. Single-task.
Source link https://uxdesign.cc/using-mindfulness-to-improve-research-sessions-92fd7a4ceabc?source=rss—-138adf9c44c—4