Chair Exercise Reflection
February 1, 2021
During our in-class exercise, I had an easier time as the “heart chair.”Regardless of what “role” I had, I always talked about how certain things, ideas, or people relate to me and how it made me feel. Because our worldview is in the perspective of ourselves, I think it is only natural that people find it easier to talk about themselves. This reaffirms the importance of user research in the design process because just like how I sprinkled in my personal biases during the exercise, Designers will inevitably make false assumptions during the early phase of design, completely missing the stakeholder’s needs and wants. During my 2-minute talk, I talked about how I feel competence in starting my work and finishing it on time, and putting my best effort to minimize the regret I may have later. However, I would like to learn to slow down and digest the scope and the possibilities of the project before starting because I found myself with a tunnel vision and learn to put physical and mental well-being above work amidst the romanticized stress-culture here at CMU.
Maggie Ma ヽ(o`皿′o)ﾉ (・∀・ ) (￣(エ)￣) （￣へ￣） ( ﾟ,_ゝﾟ) (ι´Д｀)ﾉ (・ｪ-) ლ(́◉◞౪◟◉‵ლ)
As I was listening to my group talk, I found myself worrying more about remembering and extracting major points so that I could feel prepared for what I was going to say when it was my turn. I find that I struggle with this often — when I have a presentation in class, I tune out others’ presentations as I anxiously prepare and review my presentation notes. One of the areas I want to improve on is gaining confidence not only in my work and design style, but also feeling confident when talking about my work. I feel that I can never fully and confidently communicate my ideas without a prepared script. Therefore, when I became Speaker Chair, I rushed through my two minute presentation because I felt that I was rambling and stuttering… and not making sense. But throughout my studies at CMU, I believe I have improved a lot just by practicing speaking about my work and process in class presentations, interviews, with classmates and professors, etc.
When I was doing this in-class activity, I had to think about how I could communicate my thoughts to others and review my peers’ motivations, emotions, and facts at the same time. Even though we knew each other for almost two years, it was interesting for me to listen to their deep inner self-perception. Having a chance to talk about different observations about each other also allowed me to think about how I felt when I was in the same project group with them in the past. When I had the opportunity to talk as a Speaker Chair, it was hard for me to simply choose what I felt competent and and the areas that I felt long to grow within two minutes. Whether it is about my personal or designer life, it is hard for me to finalize my decision/choice because I think about the pros and cons of every single option too much. However, as I learn more about Design thinking and get along with more people, I realized that I can overcome my concerns and change it to an opportunity to further improve myself.
I found this exercise to be uncomfortably revealing of my tendency to selectively listen to what I want to hear. As individual thinkers, we often like to believe we catch everything and are able to extract meaning afterwards during post-processing with curatorial precision. However, it quickly became clear that in order to best succeed at listening to through your assigned lens, you have to actively listen through that lens and filter out nonessential information, which is therefore excluded from knowledge remembered later on. This is both liberating as well as restrictive, since to have a clear purpose as a listener makes it easy to find what you want to hear, but it impairs your ability to consider other perspectives on the fly. This made it essential for our group to form trust in one another — once you trust that your peers are going to do their best to represent different modes of listening, you can relax and focus on doing your best to catch the information relevant to your role. I would argue that while this selective listening can feel inherently restrictive, it frees each listener to dive into their role with deeper and more intentional focus. When a group of people do this, the returned information is not mushy average, but several specialized and detailed interpretations that collectively allow for deep insights. Ultimately, this exercise made me think about how limiting it can be to listen through a lens and the importance of counterbalancing a deep, yet narrow understanding with truly differing perspectives.