Learning from Louis

Louis Theroux could be a masterful user researcher should he desire a career change.

If you’ve watched any of Louis Theroux’s excellent documentaries over the last 16 years, I think you’ll guess the jist of this post. I’ve learned so much from his personality, interview technique and demeanour, that he is a serious inspiration to me and my work.

Why

Louis is such a warm and friendly character that even the most guarded subject will agree to meet and, to a degree, open up to him.

No judgement

He’s free of any personal bias’ so doesn’t ask any leading questions or express personal opinions. His questions are all focussed around the opinion of his subjects, only saving his own opinions for his own thoughtful commentary.

This was especially prevalent in his latest documentary: Edge of Life.

Take your bitch ass back to London

The characters that have been the focus of these documentaries often need to be disagreed with, regardless of how menacing they appear.

Louis’ never afraid to ask the difficult questions, sometimes questioning and disagreeing with the subject’s points of view. In City of Dogs, after a particularly aggressive member of the LA public had his dog seized, Louis tried to ask his questions but the response was less than polite.

Understanding

He nurtures a sense of empathy for all his subjects, only caring about seeing the world through their eyes while resisting the extreme aspects of their personalities.

Finally

Louis Theroux has the ability to integrate himself into his subjects’ lives, regardless of how long he’s known them. I think out of everything, I admire this most.

Day to day, if I could apply a miniscule amount of Louis’ talent to my work, it would be a good day. He’s got the whole Jedi mind trick thing nailed.