Conversations with users are a quick and effective way of building a good conceptual understanding of a new (to me) area of business. The more I do them, the more comfortable I get in asking questions. I’ve been eliciting information I wouldn’t have thought about asking, and getting pointers and connections to other people and ideas.

I must figure out a way to better capture the insight from those conversations immediately after. It’s a skill, like asking questions, and being able to get the essence of the conversation without losing the nuance is a fun exercise in truly listening and paying attention.

It’s also interesting to see how people respond to these conversations. Adapting and mirroring styles is not an easy skill.  Years of learning how to do it, especially in my teens, is paying off. Genuine interest in the other person’s opinions, allowing them to speak, listening with the intent to understand, knowing when to ease off and when to press on intuitively, these are all skills I casually picked up in my youth.  The payoff was not  immediate (in most cases). Compounded over decades, they’ve become fairly natural to me – and evident only when pointed out by my peers, many of who struggle with conversations.