Don't do this when you validate an idea.

I've been talking to many managers and employees to validate the idea of our startup, Bottle.

There's something very subtle and small that I noticed that I was doing in interviews which can greatly affect the output.

I had a tendency to say 'makes sense', 'yeah I get it' etc.. to the customer/interviewee unknowingly. While it may seem okay at first glance, it is better avoided. Why?

When you reply with anything to the person you're interviewing, then you may unknowingly make the person choose a certain narrative, tone, or style of speaking.

Imagine someone says something and you say "makes sense". They may think that they're doing 'well' in this or that they should speak more in this style or some other whole emotion.

It's best to just hum at their answers or nod when you interview someone. Don't add any other words or phrases to show your support in their answer. Let it all be open-ended.

Whatever they say is whatever they feel, it's up to you to decipher it later.

What do you think of this? Do you agree with me?

  1. 6

    Good advice. And it applies equally when hiring: I tend to only use a phrase like “makes sense” when I’m trying to gently curtail the conversation! (Either because the candidate is bombing, or they’ve answered to my satisfaction; either way it’s time for a new topic.)

    Also remember that, just as in a negotiation, staying silent for a (possibly unnatural) extra beat can cause the other person to keep talking or elaborate. It can take some practice to stop being the person who must fill these pauses; but once you do, you might be surprised at the additional insight you get by waiting for the other party.

    1. 2

      This is very true!
      Making a person feel comfortable during an interview is super important.
      Can't have a person just silently stare while interviewing someone haha

      Thanks for your thoughts, buddy!

  2. 2

    I'm biased but @robfitz's book The Mom Test is an excellent resource on doing cust. dev. well.

    I specifically enjoyed the audio book, so give it a listen if you're in validation/cust dev mode.

    1. 1

      It's a solid read for sure!

  3. 2

    Yes - don't lead the witness.

  4. 2

    Yes, your tip definitely makes sense 😄

    1. 1

      I'm glad you found it useful :D

  5. 2

    The thing that you've mentioned happens because you are subconsciously telling their mind that they are telling the right thing i.e. exactly what you expect from them. Thus, their brain double downs on it & take it as a positive feedback &. That makes them biased.

    The best way to acknowledge their feedback is by saying something neutral such as "okay", "I undestand". Good observation, friend.

    1. 1

      Yep, exactly! It is important to stay as neutral as possible!

  6. 2

    I need to do this more. I know I have said "makes sense" multiple times today.

    1. 2

      Hahah good luck, you can do this!

  7. 2

    Agree that during customer development interviews the interviewer needs to avoid biasing responses with inappropriate style. I also use a "hmm", along with "right", or "ok" to indicate I'm listening. I've also found silence is very useful (i.e. shut up and let them talk!). A good guide to interviewing customer is Giff Constable's book Talking to Humans and his blog posts "12 Tips for Early Customer Development Interviews" and "11 Customer Development Anti-Patterns" at http://giffconstable.com/.

    1. 1

      THIS is my favorite book oh my god!
      It's such a short read but packed with insights.
      Legit changed the way I looked at ideas and validations after reading this book!

      1. 3

        Great tip @JassilJamal! Another great book about customer interviews is The Mom Test. It's packed with tips to not get biased info.

        1. 1

          I have this book with me, never started it. Guess this is my cue!

  8. 1

    Yo dawg, you are from my college! I know you from my friends who know you pretty well. I checked out your product in the past, looks pretty tight. I like the idea of not leading on your customers for validation too.

    Hope this is successful, congrats on the launch!

    1. 1

      Hahaha wow what a small world
      What's your name? Idk if we have personally connected before!

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