Active listening is when before beginning to try to solve a customer's problems, you listen and understand your customer's feedback, needs, and insights. Design teams should make a conscious effort to listen to and engage with their customers, so customers can feel like their voices are being heard and understood.
Why is active listening important for user research?
The best way to research and understand your users is to listen to them. UX designers and researchers should be talking with their customers consistently to create the best designs. It limits the number of assumptions you may make because there's little room to assume when you're in a deep conversation with your user. Asking the right questions and being an engaged listener go a long way in deepening your understanding of your target customer.
What are the techniques for being a great active listener?
A lot of people talk, but not a lot of people listen. To become a skilled active listener, consider using these techniques the next time you gather information about your target customers.
- Provide users with your full attention.
You may be having a hectic day or too focused on your perception of users' problems to gauge what their actual pain points are. We understand, it happens. However, try to give users your full attention. Remain in the present, and keep eye contact with your user to ensure you're listening to them. Listen to their whole statement before jumping to conclusions or formulating your response.
- Ask open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions are key to collecting information and insights from your user. Asking questions like, "How do you feel about this product?" gathers more meaningful answers enabling you to learn more about users' needs and desires and how you should further improve your designs.
- Paraphrase and summarize.
Paraphrasing and summarizing is a great way to show your user that you're engaged and listening to what they have to say. In short, paraphrasing is repeating someone's response to them, thus creating more clarification and less confusion. Let's say you misunderstood something your user said, your user now has a chance to correct any misinterpretations resulting in less error and more accuracy.