- Yeah, but this study will delay our launch date;
- Yeah, but we already know what the problems are;
- Yeah, but aren’t our designers suppose to know what people need? They are the experts;
- Yeah, but we can’t learn much from only five participants;
- Yeah, but we just want to launch and see if it sticks. We’ll fix it later;
- Yeah, but we can’t pay that much for this;
- Yeah, but our product managers already do interviews and look at Analytics;
- Yeah, but A/B testing gives us all the answers we need;
- Yeah, but how statistically significant is a study with five participants?
- Yeah, but can’t we run a quick study with internal users instead?
- Yeah, but research sounds so academic;
- Yeah, but Market Research already answered our questions.
(inspired by D’Hertefelt, 2000)
People have trouble persuading stakeholders to conduct UX research to begin with. They have difficulties getting sponsorship and budget for fieldwork. They experience hostility when they try to get their stakeholders to act upon research results.
Many UX research practitioners are frustrated.
I can state that with confidence because I heard it time and again when I conducted research for my book about getting stakeholder buy-in for UX research. I interviewed 30 world renown experts in the UX field as well as two book authors that knew nothing about UX. Chris St. Hilaire from Los Angeles, author of 27 Powers of Persuasion, is a communication consultant who is an expert in negotiation and persuasion. Dr. Guy Winch from New York, author of The Squeaky Wheel, is a psychologist, speaker, stand-up comedian, and an expert in complaint psychology.
I am delighted to share these interviews with you and point out some relevant takeaways about persuading UX research stakeholders and about complaining that nobody acts upon research findings and recommendations.
A word about stakeholders. A stakeholder in the UX world is a code name for the people UX practitioners work with. These are our clients, whether internal or external to our organization. These are people that need to believe in what we do, act upon research results, fund and sponsor future research. These could be product managers, software engineers, upper management, marketers, and others.
What are some effective persuasion techniques UX research practitioners can use tomorrow morning?
Here is the interview with Chris St. Hilaire. This is a fascinating piece, 11-minutes long (published with permission):
The primary takeaways from the interview with Chris are:
- Persuasion is the creation of consensus from conflict or indifference. When done appropriately, persuasion can move mountains.
- Get over your ego issues. When people say no to research or to research results, it is a sign for you that you should learn the art and craft of persuasion. Anyone can do it.
- Understanding your audience is fundamental to any persuasion situation. Understand the group you are presenting to. Before you can persuade you have to get people to listen. Make them listen by recognizing stakeholders’ predispositions.
- Take the “buts” out of your sentences. Use “and” and “also” instead. “Your idea is great. I also think this other idea is excellent.”
- Use the power of silence. To get people’s true thoughts and opinions, stay quiet. Silence is powerful. It establishes you as a leader and gets you to the truth.
How can UX research practitioners complain effectively?
Watch the 6-minute interview about complaint psychology with Guy Winch (published with permission):
The primary takeaways from the interview with Guy are:
- UX researchers complain to one another about their stakeholders because they are frustrated and not sure what they can do when stakeholders to not act upon or buy into research.
- UX researchers should complain to people who can actually do something about the situation. Otherwise, they will become more frustrated.
- Figure out why previous complaints did not work. Address those reasons in your next complaint.
- A complaint sandwich is a technique to come up with effective complaints. Basically, it means you sandwich your complaint (the meaty part of the sandwich) between two positive statements (the bread). The sandwich prevents the other person from becoming defensive.
Complain effectively, persuade continuously
Rather than venting and complaining, UXers who are experiencing some challenges with their stakeholders and clients, should tunnel their energy into effective persuasion. Reaching agreement among stakeholders establishes you as a leader. Refrain from complaining to other UXers. Use the sandwich. Move mountains.