What a Design Researcher Can Teach You About the Art of Effective Listening
An interview with Ximena Vengoechea, author of ‘Listen Like You Mean It’
Not long ago, I received an advance copy of a new book called Listen Like You Mean It. I quickly judged it by its cover (intriguing, fun), flipped through a few random pages (amazing illustrations, witty writing), then decided to actually read it. It was great, and also not what I expected.
The author, Ximena Vengoechea, is a design researcher as well as a writer. I’m a designer and writer. I don’t often get to talk to designers who write books, so I went out on a limb and emailed Ximena to see if I could ask her a few questions for an interview, and she said yes, so here it is:
Jake: I love Listen Like You Mean It. But I did not expect it to be such a personally useful book. I mean, I expected a business book — and it is a really good business book! — but I’ve found the ideas helpful for life in general. Like when I’m having conversations with my friends and family, not just at work, I’ll think “What would Ximena do?” So… how did the book turn out this way?
Ximena: Thank you! I love hearing that because that was exactly the goal; it was important to me that the book’s lessons be applicable across the many types of conversations and discussions that come up in our lives, because every conversation — whether with friends and family or at work — is ultimately an opportunity for connection, which is really what we all want.
In fact, listening within our closest relationships (which can come with their own history and baggage) can be even harder than listening in a business setting (where we tend to preserve a certain sense of decorum, and if things go south, we can at least tell ourselves that it’s “just business”). I hope readers use the book’s advice as a helpful starting point, adapting and personalizing it to the world they live in as they go.
J: When were you like “Oh hey, I’m going to write a book”?