After my boss told me to be less emotional as a designer, I realized it was actually a strength


The Emotional Designer

At work recently, it was suggested to me that in my next presentation I should try to use less emotional words and concepts. It reminded me that in general, most people believe that all artists and designers are overly emotional. We use words like “feelings” and “love”. And the same people have convinced us that being too emotional is a weakness.

I had always been bothered that I was too emotional. Cheesey movies made me weepy. Heartfelt lyrics made me cry. I could hide it most of the time but it would feel embarrassing. While discussing this very same topic with my good friend and incredible UX designer, he explained it all to me.

This weakness was actually a gift. He said, As a designer, I use my “weakness” to connect with people. It’s a unique gift that allows me to place my self in the shoes of others to understand their plight or problems and allows me to design solutions to quickly and elegantly solve their problems.

He’s right. Immediately I felt empowered. I felt pity that those around me couldn’t connect the way that we, the designer, can. That they didn’t have the weakness that we have.


This makes me sad and happy all at once!

I hate that someone told you to be less emotional. Part of being passionate about what you do involves emotion, if you aren’t emotional about what you do then you don’t care! It’s known that designers can be a bit fiery, it’s part of us. I’ve had full-on arguments with stakeholders in the past because my emotions have got the better of me (I’m better at controlling that side now!)

I love that your friend gave you better information (he sounds awesome!!)

I was given some advice once about my CV - use emotive words like love and hate, it helps show how passionate you are about what you do rather then just saying ‘I’m passionate about…’ I take this through to interviews too - being animated and excited and passionate is what got me both of my jobs. Passion and emotion goes a long way!


I remember hearing about a study of news sites that found that headlines with emotional words got more clicks. I can’t remember the link but some other relevant ones are:


I can understand where your management was coming from though. When presenting UX research or findings they need to be presented like you would a science project. This makes it so you don’t emotionally sway people in one direction or another. Keep facts quantitative and not qualitative.

I am an emotional driven person and our UX lead is a process driven person. Watching him present our teams work has been quite inspiring.

We can be an emotionally driven designer (mailchimp wrote a book on it called designing with emotion), but when presenting analytics and facts they need to be cut&dry so people take things seriously.


Yes! This is me too! I’m worse even – when I see my kids performing on stage (we’re talking primary school plays here) I get teary! Don’t let go of that. It makes you accessible.

I spend a lot of time studying motivation and persuasion, and telling emotive stories is a key persuasion technique. I think that if you can leverage that without biasing you audience, you’re on to a winner.


This topic is really interesting to me, and I can see both sides and I guess it really does depend on what you are doing as well.

One of my goals at the moment is working on my resilience. To be passionate about what I do, but not overly… emotional (i.e. don’t let things get to me to the point where it starts to get distressing). The key I’ve been told is to stay passionate, but objective, but at any point still be able to walk away. It’s when you start taking everything to heart, fighting every battle, and becoming more brittle to change that it can start to have a negative influence, both on your health and on your work.

I guess the thing here is that emotion and being emotional have very strong connotations, but they are slightly different. You can put emotion into things, but when it gets emotional is when you need to step back and go, hey, why is this happening. If it is a positive thing i.e. you are over the moon about something, that’s fine :slight_smile: but if it is something like, someone has criticized your work and it really hit a nerve, that’s when you need to think of the root cause.


I love this! Great way of thinking about it :smiley:


"To be less emotional as a designer is actually a strength"
To be emotional can never be bad or very good, anybody can be emotional, that is easy, but to be emotional at the right project, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, in the right way, that is not within everyones power and is not easy. That is why emotional balance is required for every designer to implement his/er design to the best extent so as to which the delivered design is appreciated and understood as it is easy to use as well as has emotional concept to the core.


On the contrary, my boss always asks me to empathize more with the users. The top TV series feed on the emotions of users, why death rate in GoT increases every season. Jon Snow’s death created a hysteria where people wanted him back on the show. If you are able to tap the right emotions in your customer, it will not only generate a lot of interest but also create a bond that they will be to connect with the product much better. This holds specially true for web pages, inciting interest through freebies and creating surprise elements to made customers visit the interface again.

Somehow I feel if you are not a little emotional yourself, how will you be able to bring the right emotions in your product. and therefore I agree completely that being emotional is your strength. There are some really good articles on why using emotions is actually a bold move in designing.

Designing with Emotion Means Being Brave
Things A UX Designer Need to Know About User Emotions
5 Design Techniques to Incite User Emotion


I think there is a difference between empathising with users and using emotion to communicate to stakeholders though.

Thanks for the articles. :slight_smile: