Whuh? Huh? What the heck does that have to do with usability?
Oh, also, it’s a terrible quote. My wife and I have been married for almost 30 years. We say “sorry” quite a bit (and “thank you” as well).
Now, if this means you’re automatically forgiven, I guess that’s okay. They could have been a little more explicit though. Can you tell I'm an engineer?
I digress … How exactly does this apply to user research? For me, it kind of reminds me of my users. I’m sure we’ve all experienced – and probably been frustrated by – test participants who say things like, “I’m not good at computers” or “I shoulda got that” or “Oh, that’s my fault.”
Heck, the type even made it onto my typology of users. They’re called the “Charlie Brown” type. Note to millennials … Charlie Brown was the main character in the Peanuts cartoon. He was a sad sack character famous for his bad luck, morose disposition & for blaming himself when things go wrong.
I approach this user in several, graduated ways. If it’s just once or twice, I just let it go. If it comes up again, I usually give them a little encouragement – you know, “You’re doing just fine,” “This is good feedback,” “This is a test of the system, not of you” …
If it’s still persistent (and these users can be persistent) and really starting to get in the way, I usually go into full pep talk mode. And that’s something along the lines of, “You can do no wrong here today. If there’s an issue, it’s an issue with the [site / app / software]. And I want to know about it.” I might also mention that they are the perfect user for this system, and if they can’t use it, other people won’t be able to either.
When it comes down to it, I really do love my users. All I want to do is make them feel comfortable sharing their thoughts – and never having to say they’re sorry for anything.