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Unlocking UX Success: Soft Skills That Turn Insights into Action

Your capacity to master soft skills is the key to making recommendations that truly resonate and drive impact.

In the world of UX design, Helpfully believes capturing and sharing insights shapes everything we do. Good researchers make recommendations that are backed up with research! But even the best researchers won’t get ALL their recommendations and insights adopted or added to production. Don’t let your lack of soft skills be the reason your recommendations aren’t adopted. 

At Helpfully’s Mastering Human Insights conference, Greg Murphy, ADP senior researcher, discussed the importance of soft skills when communicating key insights to gain internal and external executive support for research. He also stressed the importance of keeping and sharing the final research reports which can be hidden from many constituencies in a large company.

Soft skills are critical, but often overlooked by many researchers. A UX professional’s ability to turn insights into tangible results is essential, but equally important is their ability to share those insights with stakeholders. Greg shared a story about a brilliant researcher who was truly gifted in capturing and synthesizing insights, but couldn’t have a conversation with a stakeholder. He lacked the people skills to effectively share these insights. No one wanted to listen to this researcher or implement his recommendations because he couldn’t communicate or collaborate effectively with others. To avoid this situation in your own work, Greg offers a formula to ensure your hard work is seen and its recommendations adopted. 

1. Soft Skills for Success:

Acknowledge that not ALL recommendations make it to production. Technical limitations, timeline constraints, and stakeholder pushback can hinder the implementation of recommendations. Although only SOME of your recommendations will make it to production, don’t let your lack of communication and selling skills keep them from being implemented. 

2. Overcoming Limitations:

Navigate technical and timeline limitations by honing soft skills. Address stakeholder pushback with empathy, active listening, collaboration, transparency, professionalism, and the ability to sell your work to stakeholders or create buy-in. If you are wrong in a hypothesis, understand why. Be the champion for your work and help others understand what it means.

3. Making Recommendations Stick:

UX researchers cannot afford the luxury of having unsupported opinions. Every recommendation you make must be supported by data and insights. Master the art of selling your work, understand how to market it, so it will not only create buy-in, but make it to production. 

4. It’s not personal:

When someone questions your work, don’t take offense. They have the right to ask questions.  Stakeholders may ignore your data and insights, but we can continue to do our job and try to understand their point of view. With all that in mind, you can do everything right and still not be able to convince them. 

Helpfully is passionate about communications and insights that our clients can understand and relate with. That’s why we encourage UX researchers to craft a unified narrative, weaving together insights into a compelling story that resonates across stakeholders. Soft skills serve as your compass along with active listening, collaboration, and effectively communicating recommendations.

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