Exercising Your Emotional Intelligence: Observing the Unsaid


Design thinkers have all sorts of tools to get helpful feedback from users. Visual stimulus or even prototypes can get users talking, but sometimes it’s what they don’t say that speaks the loudest. When an interviewee is silent that’s when design thinkers need to exercise their emotional intelligence. Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.”

In an interview, design thinkers need to double down on identifying emotions. Sometimes with extreme emotions this can be easy, like when an interviewee is irate about an inconvenience in their lives, say traffic. But sometimes emotions can be a bit more nuanced, making it hard to glean helpful information from a user.

There’s good news though! Some researchers at Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center have pinpointed an array of facial expressions to their corresponding emotions. So as long as you can have a face-to-face conversation, you’ve got a leg up! In their own words:

“Facial expressions are a universal language of emotion, instantly conveying happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and much more. Reading these expressions is essential to compassion and empathy. Take this short quiz to measure your emotional intelligence. Try to identify the emotion conveyed in each of the 20 photos. Each answer will pinpoint the exact muscles involved in that emotion and explain the subtle differences between expressions, drawing on pioneering research by psychologists Paul Ekman and Dacher Keltner.”

Think you’re up to the challenge? Take the quiz and share your score with us! What other non-verbal clues do you look for besides facial expressions? Message me at @BTChinn or leave a message below.

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