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Steve Portigal - The Designer is Present

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Therapists, as part of their education, must go through therapy themselves. They are expected to achieve a certain level of insight about themselves – their biases, their discomforts, and so on. While we are not therapists, we go out and study people without that level of self-insight! A lack of self-insight sometimes manifests itself as passion, commitment, or being driven by a mission. While those have their place, it’s easy to become blinded by what we can’t let ourselves see. Sometimes this shows up as discomfort at the micro level, when we react to something a user might tell us about themselves; sometimes it’s a macro issue, when we’re uncomfortable with people who hold different values, preferences, or beliefs than ourselves. And it crescendos as know-it-all douchebaggery, when we think our job is to tell other people what’s best for them – when phrases like “frictionless sharing” fall from our lips as naturally as “what time is dinner?”

In this interactive talk we will delve into the concepts of presence and mindfulness and develop an understanding of how this informs how you engage with the world around you, as a designer, a professional, and a person.

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Steve Portigal - The Designer is Present

  1. 1. The Designer Is Present @steveportigal
  2. 2. Click to edit Master title style I DO NOT MEDITATE
  3. 3. Click to edit Master title stylePresence Being aware of and connected to the present moment - and only the present moment.
  4. 4. Click to edit Master title stylePresence Being aware of your own thoughts and feelings…so you can make choices about how to act. Being aware of and connected to the present moment - and only the present moment.
  5. 5. Click to edit Master title styleExploding questions in research interviews Coping techniques • Wait until these issues come up organically, without you having to ask • Make notes on your field guide about what you want to loop back to so you don’t forget • Triage based on what’s most pressing for your topic • Triage based on what makes the best follow-up, to demonstrate listening – e.g., emotional cues
  6. 6. Click to edit Master title styleExploding questions can lead to a flow state
  7. 7. Click to edit Master title stylePresence and mindfulness are interchangeable(ish)
  8. 8. Click to edit Master title styleMeditation is one way to develop mindfulness
  9. 9. Click to edit Master title styleExercise: Let’s do a nano-meditation Meditation is not the absence of thought, but the presence of awareness – Irene Au
  10. 10. Click to edit Master title styleMeditation is not the only way to develop presence
  11. 11. Click to edit Master title styleMeditation is not the only way to develop presence
  12. 12. Click to edit Master title styleMeditation is not the only way to develop presence
  13. 13. Click to edit Master title styleMeditation is not the only way to develop presence
  14. 14. Click to edit Master title styleIn the Zeitgeist
  15. 15. Click to edit Master title styleSeven attitudes of mindfulness Non-judging We bring our own ideas to a situation. We can notice our own thoughts but not act on them. Patience Things happen in their own way and in their own time. Beginner’s Mind Approach a situation having let go of what we already think we “know.” Trust Look to yourself – even if you make mistakes – rather than outside yourself. Non-striving Not trying to make things different but just allowing them to be as they are. Acceptance Seeing things as they are, now. Letting Go/Non-attachment Not holding on to how you want things to be. Adapted from Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  16. 16. Click to edit Master title styleThis is important to us
  17. 17. Click to edit Master title styleValidating is judging; Empathy is not sympathy http://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw
  18. 18. Click to edit Master title styleKelly McGonigal on the science of compassion Empathy is how their feelings resonate with you (“I see you are in pain”) Compassion is an intention, a feeling for a better circumstance (“May you be safe”) Compassionate thoughts affects brain/body • reduces stress hormones, increases dopamine
  19. 19. Click to edit Master title styleRelationship between mindfulness and empathy No Time to Think – New York Times Studies suggest that [a lack of presence] impairs your ability to empathize with others. “The more in touch with my own feelings and experiences, the richer and more accurate are my guesses of what passes through another person’s mind. Feeling what you feel is an ability that atrophies if you don’t use it.” http://nyti.ms/1pzBHFt
  20. 20. Click to edit Master title styleBeing present, taken to the unfortunate extreme For an artist with amnesia, the world takes place through her pencil Far more unusual is Johnson’s inability to record memories, or anterograde amnesia. Her “temporal window”—the period of time that she can reliably keep track of—slams shut after only a minute or two. If something distracts Johnson, her mental continuity can last a few seconds. As Aline put it, Johnson “flosses her teeth, washes her hands, and says, ‘What do you want me to do next—floss my teeth?’ ” Sometimes, mid-conversation, you can see a mental hyperlink break, as Johnson’s eyes start darting, covertly seeking orientation. Her life is an endless series of jump cuts. In our age of pinging distractions, people often express a desire to “be present,” but Johnson belies such sentimentality. She is marooned in the present. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/03/ 30/an-artist-with-amnesia
  21. 21. Click to edit Master title styleMind and body https://www.deviantart.com/lightchaser/art/Inside-your-head-23618943
  22. 22. Click to edit Master title styleListening Yes! Not so much.
  23. 23. Click to edit Master title styleWe are bound by our aspirations/inspirations We think we know what the solution is. We think we know what other people are about. We can’t hear them. We design for our “vision” not for their needs.
  24. 24. Click to edit Master title styleExercise: It’s Going To Be Okay
  25. 25. Click to edit Master title styleA shaggy-dog story
  26. 26. Click to edit Master title styleSelf-awareness is a muscle that grows with time Why Self-Awareness Is the Secret Weapon for Habit Change – 99U It’s human nature to first experience and then explain. Catching ourselves before we engage in our typical default reactions is one of the greatest challenges of our lives, but when done relentlessly and with discipline and moments of reflection, mindfulness ensues. The pursuit of self-awareness is difficult and requires dedication. http://99u.com/30437
  27. 27. Click to edit Master title styleBeing present to discard the irrelevant https://www.citylab.com/design/2012/09/your-body-wondermap/3146/
  28. 28. Click to edit Master title styleAnti-pattern – a lack of spatial awareness
  29. 29. Click to edit Master title styleCultural pressures that challenge presence
  30. 30. Click to edit Master title styleGetting Better With Age Suggesting without proof that this is one of those things that naturally changes with age. So, just stick around!
  31. 31. Click to edit Master title styleImprov as basic training for presence Improv invites you to set aside your default “Well, actually” reaction and explore saying “yes” to each other. Chris Miller emphasizes that your task in improv is to make your partner look good.
  32. 32. Click to edit Master title styleCognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – the reframe How (negative) thinking affects feelings and behavior “She was totally furious when I handed her the letter!” [What else could be the reason for her action?]
  33. 33. Click to edit Master title styleA noticing practice is a mindfulness practice
  34. 34. Click to edit Master title styleApplying mindfulness in acute situations Recognize – your feelings Allow – it to happen Investigate – what you feel in your body Non-identification – with your feelings (you can be angry but not be an angry person)
  35. 35. Click to edit Master title styleMarina Abramović: The Artist Is Present
  36. 36. Click to edit Master title styleExercise (don’t worry – we don’t have time!) Get into pairs Sit facing each other in chairs Look but no stares Don’t talk but be aware Then we’ll share
  37. 37. Click to edit Master title styleConcluding Thoughts Being present empowers you to more effectively • Work collaboratively • Problem-solve creatively • Learn about the people around you (e.g., users) Look for personally rewarding ways that you can practice being present so you can strengthen that skill!
  38. 38. 38 linkedin.com/in/steveportigal @steveportigal Interviewing Users rosenfeldmedia.com/books/interviewing-users/ Dollars to Donuts portigal.com/podcast/ @DollrsToDonuts Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries rosenfeldmedia.com/books/user-research-war-stories/

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