Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.
–Paul J. Meyer
Well, this week was another blur, but if I had to look back and pick out one thing that stood out for me, it would have to be the Art of Communication. It seems like one of those weeks where it was more about the Art of the Relationship and Communication with clients, employees and associates than it was about doing the actual design work. We can never underestimate how important it is to have the ability to clearly articulate a position, a pitch, an argument, a directive, or a concept.
In the design and marketing world – its critical. Monday started out with an early morning review of web pages with a client. Being able to LISTEN was paramount. My goal is to move this particular project into the web development phase ASAP and as we go into week three of creative user interface design revisions, not only do I need to listen carefully, but I also need to communicate that the revisions need to wind down. Finally, and most importantly, I need to translate the client comments to my team so that we can execute, complete the task and bill.
RESPOND, DON’T REACT
This directive is key when negotiating. This week I had to deal with a client who had reached out to let us know that they didn’t anticipate using our services this month. Although my first reaction may have been ‘OH NO what do you mean you won’t be needing us this month!”, it doesn’t mean that its what I should be communicating to the client. Instead a short, professional email stating that we would remain at their service in the meantime kept things on the up and up. Always remain on good terms with your clients, even when they aren’t using you. Don’t take it personal, keep it professional, keep it positive.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE TENSION
We were handling multiple projects and multiple deadlines this week and as is common to high-pressure environments, people that work together can get on each other’s nerves. Often times it’s the art of mixing various styles of efficiency (re: madness) that each team member can bring to the table. If someone you work with is used to being able to constantly walk into their co-workers office and look over their shoulder or leave a bread-crumb trail of individual directives, they may go into panic-mode if all of a sudden they are working in a virtual team in remote locations. This happened to me this week with another consultant working for the same client as we do. We work as a team, and what would have been someone walking into my office repeatedly with comments or edits to a project, became a machine-gun style barrage of back-to-back emails. I counted 7 emails in 45 minutes and, in my opinion, excessive. Instead of letting this kind of thing fester, and have an emotional explosion, we arranged a phone call. Sometimes replying via email when there is tension in the air is not a good idea. Emails leave too much to the imagination regarding tone. A quick phone call to bury the hatchet and discuss the project’s details is always a better move.
Knowing what to say and when to say it and how to say it is something that isn’t taught in school but should. I once heard someone say, “Mean what you say and say what you mean, but just don’t say it mean.”
I think its good advice. Remember that no matter what is going on in the office on Monday, however stressful it may be, will pass. You will get through it. Before you have a verbal meltdown followed by an emotional hangover, whether it be with clients, employees, bosses, subordinates or family and friends, clear, direct, and effective communication is key. Remain in a positive state whether you are listening or speaking and go into every discussion knowing that as human beings, we are wired to have a self-seeking, self-serving agenda. Try and diffuse the tension by putting the other person’s needs before your own. Ask them what it is they need and what you can do to make it better. Remember, its not always all about you.
A Crash Course in Communication
The Power of Listening
Communication Skills for Lifelong Relationships
Ramon has over 19 years of experience in award-winning, market-proven, print collateral, marketing material, iphone/ipad app and website design specializing in corporate identity and branding. Ramon’s passion for entrepreneurial design was borne out of 10 years as Creative Director for Jay Walker at Walker Digital, the Stamford based idea laboratory and business incubator holding over 300 US Patents. Ramon served as Senior Art Director on the start-up launch team behind Priceline.com, a Walker company and invention. Most recently, Ramon’s logo and identity work was selected to be published in “Typography and Enclosures” the fourth book in the Master Library series by LogoLounge.
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