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HOW TO EXPRESS YOUR PASSION TO OTHERS AND AVIOD BECOMING A SMUG, ARROGANT, EGOCENTRIC PRODUCT DESIGNER

By Weaam Hassan Published in Journal, Product Design Journal

Photography-Outdoors-Task

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.
– Bertrand Russell

As product designers its difficult for us to restrain our honest love for design. We get excited in so many (weird) ways…

Whether it’s a touch of a stainless steel spoon. Whether it’s a snap fit mechanism of a chair.

We truly enjoy design in all its form.

getting-inspired-by-your-surroundings

Unfortunately, when we are expressing our passion and enthusiasm for design, and want people who we talk too feel the rush that we feel. Sometimes people don’t and will feel the opposite.

“Your attitude sticks…”
“Why are you talking a lot with your hands… they’re in my face”
“Who the hell do you think you are…”
“Life isn’t all about design… stop talking about you, you, you”

Instead of finding ways to express our passion to others in a friendly and stimulating way.

Instead we begin believing in the lies.

From my experience, I’ve seen many designers and colleagues, including myself, who have expressed their passion to others in an enthusiastic approach, yet have had negative remarks that made them…

Step back and question themselves whether or not they’re portraying the inspirational yet confident product designer they’re sincerely are.

So how do we know how to express our passion in the ‘right’ way?

Here’s how I learnt how to express my passion as a product designer to people in a humble yet confident way. Leaving them smiling and wanting to hear more from me…

#1 HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

When expressing your passion as a product designer, it all comes down to your overall attitude…

It’s important to preserve a positive attitude.

No one wants to talk to a jerk. You’re not going to go far in your design career with a ‘me, me, me’ presence. That’s just plain arrogance.

As product designers who are passionately in love with what we do. It’s not a surprise that we become more excited than others. Perhaps too excited in some cases, which may make some think we’re bonkers and self-centred.

But its ok. Its ok to be crazy. Its ok to be weird. That may be you. I know I can be both.

be-yourself-in-the-design-industry

However you still need to have a positive attitude alongside those traits.

I can remember volunteering in a community careers day for the youth and was listening to one of the professionals about their career journey from (A) to (B).

After the professional had finished talking he asked me what I did. It was my turn to talk about my design career. As I was talking I remember feeling relaxed and happy, getting the professional smiling and wanting to know more about me.

You could feel the positivity in the room.

Whilst I was talking with a massive smile across my face, there was a teenage girl who walked passed me and over heard my conversation about my design work. Few minutes later, she came and asked to show her a few of my design work.

  • I wonder what had caught this young girl’s attention?
  • Was it something from my body language?
  • Was it something in my story that she felt inspired too?
  • Was it a design concept that she thought was cool?

I can remember her vividly saying…

“Weaam you’re so cool! You smashed it for the Arab girls. Guys come and check her designs… her stories are fun… Weaam how can I become a designer like you?”

Next thing I know, I was surrounded with youth firing questions about how I became a product designer. They wanted to know everything about my design career. From my design work to how I achieved a first class honours degree.

They even made me roughly sketch how my sport inhaler worked…free-sketching-to-inspired-people

You see when having a positive attitude when talking about what you love; the positive vibe rubs on others. Keeps them engaged to you and makes them feel the rush in the way you do.

No matter what topic I spoke about, it referred back to them.

You see, when you are expressing your passion to others, young people or adults, with the right attitude you’ll be far from being arrogant towards them.

Instead you’ll be confident, enthusiastic, and inspirational product designers, who want others to benefit from your own experience and what you’re saying.

One of the things that can help you maintain a positive attitude is having a positive presence. For example…

#2 WORK ON YOUR BODY LANGUAGE

The way you stand, the way you listen to people, the way you talk. A positive presence is crucial.

Before approaching people with a positive attitude you need to understand how the attitude can be developed. Working on your body language can lead to making you likable and friendly to be around.

And that’s what you want people to feel when you’re expressing your passion.

There are a number of books, online information, and classes on how to communicate with a positive body language.

Whichever way you choose to learn must suit you. You want to feel natural and not like a robot.

Some of us product designers already do body gestures without even thinking. I can remember talking to the professionals and the young people in the careers day about my designs with…

  • A soft tone of voice: Soft yet confident tone, which made them feel welcomed not intimidated by what I was saying.
  • Constant eye contact: I looked at whom I was talking to whilst they were talking. This made them feel valued.
  • Smiles: a genuine warm smile can do wonders.
  • Hand and body movements: I do this a lot. This brings your story to life. Shows real passion and anticipation.

When expressing your love for design, its not always words that will get people’s attention. But it’s also how you physically present yourself. It’s the interaction between you and the other person.

Whether you’re smiling to someone or even talking with your hands when explaining a design concept.

It’s all resolves around interaction.

By understanding the different ways to develop a positive body language, you’ll discover that many people will find your enthusiasm and passion for design contiguous.

They’ll end up feeling what you’re feeling or even more.

#3 DON’T JUST TELL THEM. SHOW YOUR DESIGN WORK.

Don’t just rely on telling people about your passion… Show them!

Show them your sketches, photographs of your prototypes and models, your CAD work etc.

You may find yourself talking a lot and losing the person’s attention. And the only way to bring their focus back is to show them some of your work.

I use to have my digital portfolio saved on my phone…digital-portfolio-on-mobile-phone

You’ll find through showing someone your work whilst talking about it is a great way to express your passion.

Why? Because you’re going to involve them.

They’re not just going stand there listening to you go on and on. You’ll begin to interact with them even more, because discussions will appear. Let them ask the questions. Let them want more.

And when they do, this will be a great time to…

#4 FIND WAYS TO INSPIRE AND HELP

Minutes passed by and I was still in the middle of the youth, listening to their dreams, their stories, what they want to become in the future, what they less enjoy in school (sorry Mr Moore). We spoke for hours.

Then I realised that there wasn’t a designer in the building… except me.

So I stepped up from being this volunteer who greeted people on the day to a professional product designer in seconds. I didn’t force people to know about me. They just wanted to.

I told the youth all sorts of things about my design career. Showing them that yes people in our community can achieve what they want…

  • That university was difficult, but guess what I overcame the challenges and achieved a first class honours degree.

  • How life as a design student is and how to get there

  • I wrote down links to websites (including mine) that can help them improve their career and lifestyle goals.

  • And that it’s ok not to be perfect, because no one is. That everyone has their own weaknesses and strengths. Its about how to create goals to achieve ones dream.

The more I was spending time with the youth bouncing off each other’s stories, the more we all felt relaxed and cheerful. And couldn’t wait for the next person to talk.

But the sad thing is…

#5 UNFORTUNATELY NOT EVERYONE WILL FEEL YOUR PASSION

A couple of days later, I met with the person who ran the careers day (who by the way is a fantastic person). There was me full of enthusiasm believing that I made a difference to the youth on that day, little did I know that I will hear…

“Weaam you were very confident and I really liked that. You’ve grown into a remarkable young lady, BUT weaam some people said to me that you were a little bit arrogant when talking to them…”

“What? How? When?” I bafflingly replied.

The person began to laugh, because she was wondering why I was confused and offended.

She only wanted me to simply understand for the future that everyone isn’t going to feel my passion.

For days I felt down and didn’t feel motivated at all. Adam realised that there was something wrong with me, because he noticed that I was quiet (Not the usual bubbly Weaam).

I told Adam what had happen and he replied…

“Weaam are you being serious… you were being confident! You’re growing Weaam, now you know your values and your net worth; its easily understandable why you feel confident with yourself… its not arrogance at all.”

After talking to my mentor I came to realise that if I was arrogant I would have made the event all about me thinking that I was above everyone, but I didn’t.

I listened, I praised, and motivated others to be inspired in design.
You see, the issue with many people is that they are afraid to aim high and dream big.

I believe that a true product designer can’t be arrogant, because of the nature of the role.

Great product designers always work darn hard to satisfy people’s needs and wants, and that itself shows that they are humble people, and down to earth.

user-focused-group-with-design-concept

Today I’m building my own personal brand. I’m doing what I love, whether I’m working in a job as a product designer or not. Product design will always be my passion. It’s what I enjoy.

My personal brand has three purposes:

  1. To attract the right company who have similar values to me.

  2. To impact lives by sharing my own experiences to other ambitious people who want to be part of the design industry.

  3. SHARING my mistakes and what I’ve learnt. HELPING to remove doubts from people.

I know that many of you are doing great things for others as well yet receive negative remarks. If you have a positive attitude. You work on a positive body language. You share your stories (even weaknesses), and inspire and help others…

Well, you keep doing that.

Because sometimes its not you who needs to change, its actually the other person.

So now you know how to avoid becoming an arrogant product designer.

You don’t make others feel like your better than them and you don’t let insecure, negative people pull you down.

weaam-bio-photoABOUT THE PRODUCT DESIGNER

Weaam Hassan, passion in product design is focused on the human perception of beauty and interaction with the consumer. So not only must the product be pleasing to the eye, feel, smell, touch but also comfortable in the daily life of the user. She documents her journey in finding a job with an agency, while sharing the process of her product design work on her website.

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