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Designing products with love

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When allowing love within our team environments, there is no one size fits all approach. Typically, (not all skilled designers are like this) designers who are very skilled and empathetic tend to be very quiet and sensitive. Within business, it’s a common occurrence that the loudest voice in the room is the one that people will listen to. This may not be the right one to follow. Learn what’s the best working style for your teammates and honor that. Maybe a teammate prefers to use slack while another prefers to use zoom. Do this by communicating your intentions of wanting to establish a healthy working relationship, and ask questions and share personal information that can help you achieve this goal. Questions around communication style, interests outside of work and even passions are all great topics to build this rapport.

Love is understanding. We need to learn how to love our teammates for who they are, not what we may expect them to be or to do. Many times when first meeting a teammate, people will ask for introductions. Essentially they are asking you to tell them what have you done that warrants them showing you their respect. This is not love. Love is not judging you of your past, good or bad. Love wants to understand who you are, right now. It wants to understand what you care about and what inspires you to do the work that you do.

When speaking with teammates, be yourself without imposing onto others how they should also be. You never know what others are going through. I have two personal examples of this.

One time a teammate expressed having some personal issues and not being able to make it to a sync. I expressed my understanding and didn’t ask for details of what was going on but expressed my support for them to take care of their personal matter, showing up to work in their best state and prioritizing moving dates around with other teammates so that they could handle their business without worrying about work. They were able to and expressed a lot of gratitude for the way I helped them in that moment. One afternoon I found myself having a very nasty headache. In hindsight, I should have canceled the rest of my meetings and took care of myself, but I thought that the headache would pass and that I could focus on the last few meetings of that day. The headache didn’t pass and while on zoom i was visibly uncomfortable. A teammate who recently became a dad made a dad joke that most of the team laughed at but I was unable to have any reaction to because of the pain that I was in (it was a good joke). He noticed and said “I guess Shawn didn’t find that funny”. I responded by saying “I’m sorry but I’m having a really terrible headache at the moment.” and he apologized for making the comment. There are times to joke, there are times to work intensely and there are times to take a break. Be present with your teammates and learn to empathize with what they may be experiencing. This can happen via asking questions and actively listening to what others say.

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