I’d like to say when it comes to brand planning my philosophy is “listening” but it’s not. Many will tell you the best cultural anthropologists are listeners, observers and silent recorders of behavior. They are.
Many brand planners today are expert listeners but not all see. Watching confirms what the ears hear. Observing can add great texture to the person interviewed. One question I used to ask job seekers when interviewing in the ad business — after a few minutes of the interview — was, “Tell me about me.” (I almost invented the “me too” movement with the question one time, but that’s a story for another day.) The intent was to see if the candidate had any observations about my office, tidiness, books I read, etc. Non-verbal learning.
Anyway, I’ve found that the quietude that happens when one only asks a question and listens can suck the air out of an interview. A good brand planner animates. Laughs out loud. Play acts what a consumer might say or do. It’s okay to interrupt and interject. Most of all a good interviewer shows interest. Makes the candidate some alive. Adding a pulse to a convo can move things in new directions. Also share from your own life, even things a little personal; it peels away some layers.
Listen for sure. But probe and bait for surer.