How to not be the smartest person in the room and still be respected

Lauren Goldstein

Short talk - in English

As designers, especially in the enterprise software field, it’s common for us to start on new projects with no prior domain knowledge. Working in a highly technical field, it is almost a guarantee that learning a new domain is going to be extremely complicated with a steep learning curve. Not only do we need to start designing for this project immediately, but as part of our jobs we need to coordinate on the project and discuss our work with a myriad of people, such as developers and project managers. A lot of the time, these people hold more subject knowledge than we may have, and this often results in designers feeling scared to speak up in group discussions, thinking we might embarrass ourselves or sound stupid by saying the wrong thing. In this talk, I will discuss how instead of being intimidated by subject matter experts in this situation, designers can re-position their own idea of how to feel like a smart and qualified person in the room. By coming to the table ready to ask questions and not being afraid to share our own point of view, we can show that we are just as able to as anyone to provide great contributions, regardless of our experience in a specific technical domain. Designers may feel like they’re not the “smartest”, or most knowledgeable person in the room, but we still play a vital role on our team and business. By learning how to navigate these types of uncomfortable situations, designers can be stronger contributors than ever.