What psychological skills make (good) Designers?

I am currently writing up a paper about what psychological skills (not technicial skills) that (good) designers need. I roughly think that (good) designers need two different types of skills: a type of skills that find problems by understanding targets deeply (e.g., perspective taking or empathy) and a type of skills that generate solutions (e.g., creativity, visual imagination, analogy thinking, etc.). Do you have any better suggestions?

A hide like a rhinoceros!

What does this mean? Could you please tell me more about “hide” thing that you mentioned?

lol, it refers to having thick skin, as in the ability to not allow negative comments get to you. You have to be able to not take criticism personally, as it is used to help you develop as a professional.

If you are considering Psychological skills as: Anxiety Control, Concentration, Confidence, Mental Preparation, Motivation, Team Emphasis, etc - they would all be important for a designer or any profession. For a designer, empathy (showing concern), and achieving harmony by leveraging these and Technical skills would be important. But don’t discount Interpersonal Skills too (the third leg of the skills stool), which would include verbal, written communication, presentation, management and leadership.
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It would be interesting to include a perspective in skill differences between Boomer, GenX, and Millenial designers, due to the influence of technology.


We need to be able to read the client’s or marketing’s mind to understand the true needs and scope of a project. Most people say “I’ll know it when I see it”, but in reality they are typically predisposed.

Empathy. Without it you are just another Prima Donna.

The ability to influence. It is important to learn how to not just be a pencil, and not just a scion/advocate of consumer based solutions, but also how to influence your organization (or client) into implementing, and doing it right, without being a self righteous jackass about it.

I’m a first year IDS student and this is my way of making it work out for me.
Being patient and open-minded about ideas is probably what would make a good designer… at least that’s what I’ve been doing. :smiley:
Also, I usually go around class and ask my mates what their inspiration was for their design and sometimes I will be rash and tell them how I feel about their work. I do it not to be rude, but just to give them another perspective.
Look at ideas that don’t work first before you look at the ideas that do work.
And some may disagree, but I would take comments personally. Not to a point where it would be negative and I would stop being a designer, but only when people criticise my work. They ARE open to their own opinions, BUT I will question them as to WHY they feel that my design won’t work.
Always question people.
And always think to yourself that you’re a great designer… with some exceptions. Why? Because being optimistic about your work and knowing that it’s great makes you feel even better when you see the finished product.

I don’t know exactly how this is related to your topic, Jaewoo.Joo, but this is what I’ve been doing since I started school.

Great thank to all who give me some insights. So far…

Not to be too much stressed out about others’ criticism,
treat other people well by using the interpersonal skills,
influence coworkers,
empathize with others’,
and be open to new ideas…

The suggested skills are about “how to interact with OTHERS well”…

Two quesitons come to my mind:

  1. Does this mean that designers generally lack in some kinds of interpersonal skills? Or, are designers continuously exposed to any co-work environment so that they desperately need this skill?

  2. I think “interacting with clients and customers” is very different from “interacting with other designer, engineers, and business people”. Do designers need different skills depending on different situations (i.e., empathy for customers and some others for business people) or they need a uniform skill (i.e., open to all others…etc)?

    p.s. I had a dinner with my friend designer (visualizing medical industry data) last night. She said that designers generally have something inside and they always want to take it out to the real world. Therefore, designers are ego centric and have a self-fulfilling tendency rather than support their partners at home. Do you think this is also true? (similar with Q1?)

Ego centric…perhaps narcissistic!
Designers may exhibit character adjustment difficulties, but deep, deep down the common thread may be that they are all just seeking…


Here, the design profession can be equally satisfying and harmful for those who practice it.

do you have any sort of research to back up these thoughts? you know like a reseacher? or are you just going to get five peoples opinions and decide designers have no personal skills and make bad mates?


I think you misunderstood what I summarized above (or I summarized in an inappropriate way, maybe). I did not propose that designers have no interpersonal skills. I just asked why those skills that facilitate communicating with others are ‘commonly’ raised by five people.

As a nondesigner but an academic researcher, I want to demystify how designers improve our daily life by creating stunning products and change the daily services. I simply believed that designers are those who are creative, able to express their ideas in visual ways, etc. After researching ‘design,’ I come to realize that those solution-based skills are not enough to describe their (your) activities. I personally believe that good designers are the good “researchers” who identify what customers truly want.

However, my rough idea above has not been supported academically yet. I posted this discussion because I was curious about whether my idea was incorrect or whether there are OTHER more important skill sets that I miss.

In sum, I love… actually admire designers who make something that I cannot even imagine.

i have found being fairly reserved mentally and emotionally is useful tool. i am hamstrung with a speech impediment that can make it difficult to communicate verbally effectively, so try to reflect on what i am going to say and choose my words and responses carefully. this introspection take can be extremely helpful when considering the needs of other departments and consumers. i think it helps me to analyze and process quicker and more effectively mentally.

the ability to communicate professional criticism is a good one as is the ability to translate feedback as such. empathy is a great tool.

i work hard to keep my ego in check and work to lead by example and action than through diplomacy and words. in that, certain values each of us prioritize affects our individual talents and productivity. personally, i value strength and integrity above all else.

well we love you too… now buy our crap lol

self delusion…top of the list…

Humor is my key. I can get clients to do things with my wit. First off it’s a good icebreaker. It also puts people at ease and lets the client become more relaxed so we can get to the heart of what they need.

I don’t have a lot of patience, I’m not that thick skinned and I’m not that open to changing things but humor helps me do my job and communicate well with clients.

I believe that to be a designer you need the ability to identify with the client. When doing industrial design if you do not know much about the product you are designing you completely immerse yourself in it. Say it is a fishing pole you are designing; you try out several on the market, you take the day off and go fishing (wearing the hip high waders and all, completely immerse yourself in the product!) You have to have the ability to shape-shift into anyone around you, imagine what they feel, why they do what they do, the logic behind their actions, etc; while you are simultaneously identifying the problems and formulating solutions. You have to be aware of things that person is not. You must have super powers sometimes to extract these personas from others, as most people do not know what makes them who they are. That is for the designer to discover!

Also, you have to take in everything around you. Designers are known to be extremely observant beings. They have the ability to open their minds and look up when everyone else is looking down. They like to pull things a part and know what they are made. We are very curious and love to learn; always asking how and why!

funny to read back through this one :slight_smile:

I’m surprised that no one mentioned being comfortable with cognitive dissonance as that seems closely linked to creativity. It’s basically being comfortable holding two conflicting ideas in your mind at the same time, which is what the most creative ideas take.

I would also say that being able to concentrate for long periods of time on details seems to be consistent among the designers that I know. Most people can’t imagine taking 2-3 days and drawing the same button over and over again stressing the proportions and fillets, but we tend to do that without remarking on how bizarre it is.

I’m surprised at the amount of responses talking about the ability to convince people of things. I haven’t found that to be much more effective than being grumpy and uncompromising.