We build bridges. It’s not about using the hottest app or the latest agile method. These things can be useful tools, but they do not replace the foundational skills needed for working with different teams to build solutions for users and businesses. Being a UX practitioner means building connections with different groups to deliver. It's not just about understanding the needs of the user and the goals of the business, mocking up wireframes, and prototyping interactions, but also understanding and speaking with the people to get support and build the solution. To build that connection, you’ll need to be curious, actively listen, and clearly communicate with the team. 1. Curiosity Even though it’s important to be curious about the problem we’re solving and not jump too quickly to the solution, use that curiosity to learn about the teams you’re working with. Learn about the company, its culture, and how teams work together, especially when you first join a new crew. Here are a few questions to ask about your team and company: What’s the team culture? How do we communicate on projects? As a team and individually? How should we work together? How can we support each other on a project? Grab coffee with your team, and try to hang out if there's a company outing or Zoom event. It pays off, in the long run, to know each other’s expectations and how to support one another to deliver on a project. 2. Active Listening While you’re hanging out and asking questions, be sure you’re actively listening. Listen and be present while learning. Ask relevant questions that follow what was just said. Repeat it back to ensure everyone is on the same page and you hear correctly without any misunderstandings. It’s tempting, especially when you're new to the team, to avoid asking for clarity on something in a meeting. For instance, it can be daunting to ask about an unfamiliar acronym a project owner said. Work at fighting through that fear and ask about it. While you’re actively listening to team members, managers, product owners, etc., asking questions for clarity, confirm what is being explained. Is everyone on the same page? You need to know how to communicate clearly and often. Note to my fellow introverts: I understand the struggle can be real. Practice. It pays off to clearly communicate your ideas and acknowledge what others have said. 3. Clear Communication/Lingo Fluency Do you happen to know your audience’s lingo? For instance, when speaking with executives, understanding the business goals and mirroring their language has helped with their understanding of the recommendations and research findings I’ve presented. You’ll notice not only does each company have its own culture, but also each role will have its own language - devs speak differently than designers, marketers, and C-suite. Be mindful of your audience. UX has access to so many wonderful deliverables like wireframes, service blueprints, user journey maps, statements of work, and project plans that help show we’re listening and help communicate ideas back to our audience. Review together, talk about, correct any misunderstandings, and use these artifacts to capture ideas and decisions. UX doesn’t do silos. To be successful, we need to build those bridges and work together. The process may be frustrating, but taking the time to foster connections with the team helps with building support. These skills can take time to build and require practice. Be patient with yourself. Try to offer the same grace and patience to others - they’re trying to learn how to work with you, too. (Unless they’re just hostile and disrespectful - Don’t accept the abuse) Being a UX practitioner is not for the faint of heart. We do the work because we’re passionate problem solvers. It has its challenges and an amazing, lively community here to support and provide guidance.