Here are a few things to think about the next time you are out listening to people in focus groups, on the street, in their homes, etc.
- question their answers: people don't intentionally lie (at least not often), but we will make up answers and say things that will make us sound better than we actually are.
- is it just an "easy answer": often we want to answer something just to get it done with which means we don't elaborate as much as we could.
- do they know how to answer the question: many questions are tough to answer and need to be asked in a few different ways. if an answer does not make sense, perhaps they did not understand the question.
- watch their body language: this is key. most communication is non-verbal. non-verbal communication adds context to verbal communication.
- notice their pattern of response: many people are always positive or negative or apathetic. by noticing this, you can understand their response more fully.
- understand your own bias: for the most part, it's hard to listen when our own biases are getting in the way. "older people don't get technology", "younger people are hasty", etc. these biases get in the way of actually understanding people for who they are, not who we think they are.