Trust Me

The empathy stuff I rambled about is a big part of creating a successful connection between humans. It builds trust. Without trust there isn’t much left.

The same is true for technology. After all, humans built the stuff so if a digital presence suddenly reveals itself to be untrustworthy, it gets shaky pretty fast. Just take a look at Facebook’s stock price as the news of their practices rolls out.

Is the old marketing adage “trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair”, still true?

As a UX (user experience) person, I’ve worked with people to create good experiences in the both the digital and analog worlds since dial up. I’ve become acutely aware of something that appears common: humans are more apt to be trusting when they have a positive feeling about their interactions with a thing – be it a pencil a touchscreen or an online form.

No one wants a lousy experience (at least not consciously). There’s a ton of evidence that shows everyone loses when there are elements of a bad user experience in play. Most often, users blame themselves and no one notices. The person (user) feels stupid or inept but they accomplish the task – writing with the pencil or checking in for a flight with a touch screen or submitting a payment using an online form.

But, if UX processes are in place as a strategic underpinning, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The user may not thank you but your business and your digital presence will. Trust is something that’s built intentionally, guarded and nurtured, just like good user experiences.

Oh, scrolling

WarnerBrosIn the beginning of movies and TV, scrolling was horizontal. Remember those old cartoons with the same chunk of background showing up over and over? The advent of screens, word processors, software, apps, and so on gave us vertical scrolling on our desktops and in our hands.

In the beginning of the web, vertical scrolling was bad.  Getting everything on a screen (page) to fit ‘above the fold*’ was one of the biggest priorities. C-suite guys grabbed onto the buzz. Some swooped in to reject designs, others made sure their marketing folks knew not to let anything scroll lest they piss off the boss.

What if the screens/pages were long enough to end up ‘below the fold’? The best practice was to add some way for the user to navigate back to the top of the page/screen.

Fast forward to today and what do our devices show us on their various screens? Endless scrolling. Intentional infinite scrolling.

So now what? Remember the olden days, if it scrolls down, help users get back up again.

*Ahem, wikipedia, help a sister out and add some ‘back-to-top’ links.

The empathy, stupid

If you’re old enough, you probably remember the first Bush administration and the arrival of Bill Clinton with the saying, it’s the economy, stupid. Specifically, James Carville’s phrase “The economy, stupid”.

It’s not still the economy. I think we’re to the point where we can safely say it’s “The empathy, stupid” which to me means, the lack thereof.


Good (manager) + empathy = great (manager). True in life and business.

When will we finally figure this out? Talk to each other instead of watching them talk at us. Gather facts and share them. Know where you’re money goes. Vote and know why you’re doing it. Look at the world around you.

Think about people who live differently than you do on a day-to-day basis – without focusing on who has greener grass – and see how that might feel.

That’s all it’s about. Lack of empathy is a bad thing, it creates insecurity. Having empathy makes us individually and collectively stronger. An individual who feels seen, heard and recognized for who they are will be more confident because of a foundation of understanding and connectedness.

Confidence without empathy can quickly become arrogance. Don’t get caught in the trap of believing whoever is louder because loud is only noisier.

The root of the word is confidence is con for a reason.

Recovering from The Impostor Syndrome

If the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one, I fess up: I suffer from The Impostor Syndrome. Now what?!

Finish the blog post from April of ’16.

From what I’ve gathered while giving myself this diagnosis, I’ve decided everything in my life can be looked at as an illness, or something from which I need to recover. The symptoms can be physical, like any other condition, illness, disorder or affliction.

But – yes there is a big but – this combopack of signs that manifest as a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach or the inability to catch a deep breath are mostly dredged up by self-doubt, questioning and comparing myself to (almost) anyone else.

False evidence appearing real or FEAR as my mom’s mom used to say.

I’m not suggesting denying feelings of fear. I’m testing out the opposite by turning around and staring fear or feelings in the face and saying “hey, what’s up?”

Carl Richards wrote an article called Learning to Deal With the Impostor Syndrome which at least opened my eyes to the fact that I’m far from alone. I also no longer believe that women experience this sense of fraud – or what I’ve referred to as professional deceit – more often than other genders but I doubt it.

For me, the remedy is equal parts undoing and building. Undo the ideas that I have to apologize for wanting to be treated equally to my mostly male counterparts in the work world. Build on the existing foundation of my values, competence and most importantly, confidence.

It’s also gotten clearer to me that I love helping others see how they can avoid, or cure themselves of, their own version of the syndrome.