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Notes: How to Communicate Effectively as a Female Designer in a Male Dominated Industry

Start with a Credo

  • “No matter how heated the debate, I take an approach that allows me to be ______ and _______. I do everything possible to find mutually beneficial solutions, separating the problem. I’m respectful of the person, but hard on the problem.”

Asserting confidence as a woman.

Asking for permission can be perceived as avoiding responsibility or an unwillingness to avoid tough decisions. Leaders need to be willing to take risks and make difficult decisions independently.

  • My strong advice is…

  • I strongly suggest…

  • That is absolutely right, and here’s why…

  • My strong advice is…

  • I agree completely because…

  • Here is my plan…

  • I recommend…

When a man/anyone interrupts you:

  • I appreciate your questions and feedback. Please hold off until I’m done.

When you’re giving feedback to another designer:

  • What am I missing here that you’d like me to address?

  • What feedback do you want?

  • What are two things I/you did well?

  • What is one thing I/you that needs improvement?

  • At which points were you most confused?

  • At which points were clear to you?

  • What do you think about this?

  • Ask permission to give feedback: “Can I share my thoughts with you?”

Give feedback with questions & humility:

  • “I can see how you… From my vantage point, ….”

  • “It doesn’t seem to hit home with me.”

Asking for a promotion:

  • Assuming things are different 6 months from now, what are my changes of gaining a promotion?

  • Now that I’ve been in this role X years, what actions would it take to advance to the next level?

Have a meta-conversation

  • “Just want to understand, going in, what are your goals for this review?”

  • “To make sure I understand, is it OK if I just listen?”

Probe

  • “Tell me more.”

  • “Why do you say that?”

  • “What else should I know?”

  • “For example?”

Playback

  • “So it sounds like…”

  • “If I understand it correctly…”

  • “So what you’re saying is…”

  • “In other words…”

Signposting

  • “Let’s talk about X - that’s important. After we talk about X, I want to come back to Y.”

  • “I see 2 related but separate topics for us to discuss. They are both important. Let’s discuss each topic fully but separately, giving each topic its own track. After we’ve discussed _____, we’ll swing back and discuss ________.”

Jessica TiaoComment