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Product Guy – hear your friends

basset shutterstock 600pxSome people hear but don’t really listen. That’s bad and can feel disrespectful. But for great product making, even bigger risk is a Product Guy that listens but doesn’t really hear.

Intelligent people blessed with great memorization skills, high career motivation and access to modern training courses can be trained to become extremely good ‘literal listeners’. Like the Stepford wives, they maintain eye contact, address you by your first name, bake in your words to their sentences, hold back from being negative or combative, suggest constructive actions, and make a great summary at the end. In short, they really make you feel like they ‘get’ you.

Except that absolutely nothing in their thinking, values, behaviors or actions really changes because of what you say.

That ‘sales push mode’ can be really dangerous. Because sometimes the only important takeaway from the customer feedback is that the consumer pretty much hates everything in the product, even if she never said those exact words, and even if only one (by the way, highly fixable) feature was transcripted as an epic fail.

All feedback matters, but some matters more. The Product Guy should especially hear out people with a vested interest with them. Those friends (Note: I am using the zuckerbergian definition of the word) can be voluntary pilot users, soulmate colleagues from other teams, or sales guys whose own success is dependent on the competitiveness of the product. Apart from the signs of Stockholm Syndrome in distressed times (“I am held hostage to loving this product, because it is my only way out of this mess”), it is these people who can be counted on to take the extra time to go beyond the quick & easy, anecdotal, literal comments, and tell how they truly feel.

And then, as counterintuitive as it sounds, sometimes three words (“I hear you”) and doing something differently is a better answer than a detailed, well-rehearsed point-by-point rebuttal.


Happened in the previous episodes of Product Guy series:

Stay tuned for the next episode: Product guy – eat a lot of dogfood


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