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Body Language

What you don’t say can be as important as what you do. The right body language, eye contact, and facial expressions can help you learn more and engage deeply.


Suggested Time

Throughout the entire process

Level of Difficulty


Materials Needed



Design team, person you’re designing for

Process Phase

The goal of an Interview is to really understand the experiences, needs, and desires of the person you’re designing for, and your body language can play a big part in the process. It may sound simple, but keeping good eye contact, nodding and smiling as a way to reinforce what a person is saying, and giving non-verbal cues to validate what you’re hearing can be powerful. Truly engaged listening can be just as important as the questions you ask. Because you’re building empathy, it’s tempting to interject things like “I understand how you feel,” or “something similar happened to me,” or even to offer advice. But your job is to hear and record exactly what the person is telling you, not to insert yourself into the conversation. Here’s how to let your body language do the talking.


  1. Ensure that your body is on the same level as the person you’re interviewing. If they are sitting on the floor, sit beside them. If they’re working at a market, stand and face them.
  2. Make and keep eye contact. Smile and nod your head to communicate that you are listening to them and they have your full attention.
  3. Taking notes is another physical cue to the person that you’re listening and appreciate what they say.
  4. You may be tempted to fill a moment of silence with a personal anecdote. But keep focused on the person you’re interviewing—make them the center of attention.
  5. You’re building empathy with the person you’re designing for, and they’re building it with you. They may even ask you for advice on an issue but remember that you’re not here to offer solutions, you’re here to observe and learn.