If interaction design is in big part about understanding users, listening and asking are one of the top tools of a designer.
We all know about user testing, research and all that stuff. Those methods work good if the right questions are asked and the interviewees are carefully listened.
A deeper approach
Latetly, I have been looking for ways to improve my method to get more information from users. What it seems to be working good is to pretend that “I don’t know”.
Sorry, I don’t understand. Could you repeat that? I’ve never heard about it, I’m not from here (works good for me, being a foreigner). I don’t know…
Inside the company
Of course you don’t want to look silly at work but an “I don’t know” approach could also make collegueas share their ideas during design workshops.
Just say: I didn’t know that, could you explaing further?
A different approach to consulting
Many user experience consultants prepare themselves fantastically before meeting their new clients for the first time. They read about their industry, their website, their business. They also prepare extensive documents and they pretend to know everything about them.
I think the best approach is to say “I don’t know, please explain”… what you want, what you think you need, tell me about your business, your industry…
Encourage talk and discussion saying “I don’t know”.