In my career as a planner, I have trotted out two different Steve’s when interviewing people in discovery. The first is the “I’m a quick study” Steve. This Steve wants interviewees to know he’s savvy in the business, the market and the category. I wouldn’t call him cocksure, but an air of self-assuredness is the goal. The second Steve is the “Help me, help me, Steve.” He plays grasshopper to the interviewee’s Mr. Miyagi. Not in an obsequious way but as someone in need of intense category nourishment.
There are times and places for both, E.g., when interviewing a subject matter expert (SME), they want to know you can understand them. But for the most part I tend to use the “help me” Steve. More so as my planning experience grows. We humans are a helping and nurturing clan. And people tend to be more open when they are helping. It’s always best to have your interviewee be the smart one.
Our mission is to extract learning, attitudes and values. Open the faucet and let insights pour forth. Half duplex ego is the goal.