These days, we’re taking lots of inspiration from fictional football coach turned football coach, Ted Lasso. In season 1, Ted bests a bully with a story about how he’s been underestimated all his life. The quote, above, which Ted sees on a poster, sparks the realization that all bullies, and all those who have underestimated him, forgot how to be curious. Instead of asking why, they judged what was different and criticized what they failed to understand.

As researchers, we’ve often been confronted by this idea – our customers, our users, and especially our critics – just don’t know enough. They don’t understand the right way to use our product. They don’t represent the “real” users. Or they’re not smart enough to get what’s great about our ideas.

This quote inspires and affirms what researchers often know – seeking to understand people on their own terms, and reveling in why they think the way they do, always provides more insight than writing them off. It’s easy to forget that the humans on the other end of our conversations ARE our partners, and co-creators. Their response to the ad or the concept or the product or the content that we put in front of them will shape what it becomes. And if we remain curious, and even generous and gracious about what they have to give, we will get much more.

And we’ll be on Ted Lasso’s team, which might be reason enough.