Part one of a three-part series.
Remember back in the day when communicating with another human being involved a face-to-face conversation? Or a voice-to-voice chat? That was the extent of it. Now you have your pick of communication channels: email, instant messenger, text, skype, and on and on and on. And as time goes by, technology offers us even more elaborate and instantaneous ways of communicating. But here’s what’s not changing: the humans with whom we’re communicating. Living, breathing, emotionally complex people. There’s an art and nuance to communicating that’s slowly being stripped away by shiny technology. Emails can often be misread and misunderstood. Body language isn’t evident in a text. Instant messenger is really bad at relaying a mood.
So what does this have to do with your client relationship? Everything.
Sure technology makes connecting and finding people way easier than ever before, but it doesn’t make it better. A message can’t tell you if a client’s angry, but the tone of voice will. A text won’t warn you about a client’s frustration or worry, but body language will.
The need for authentic human interaction and respect is critical for the success of any relationship or project. That old school approach of talking, listening and observing seems to be getting lost and it’s up to us to bring it back.
I’ve learned over the years that cultivating a client relationship is just as important as creating great work. Clients want to be heard and respected. They want to work with us to get to the root of the problem and discover a solution that gets results. They want to enjoy the process, have fun and feel creative. They want to be able to express frustration when they need to. Why? Because they’re human.
Our role is really to act as a therapist. (You read that right – therapist.) It is part of our job to listen and to ask relevant and insightful questions about the project and about clients’ motivations or feelings. Projects sometimes start out for vague reasons because clients may not be able to pinpoint or articulate a need. Or the problem is something deeper, hidden in layers of internal bureaucracy. But the truth lies just below the surface and clients need to talk it out in order to get there. Let’s not forget that our clients are experts in their fields and can offer so much knowledge and information that helps us do our job better. It would be foolish on our part not to tune in to what they’re saying.
Brand Therapy is an empathic approach to communication that allows those in the creative industry to strengthen their client relationships through the use of common sense, understanding and listening.
It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet it’s something we forget on a regular basis.
That’s why when AIGA National contacted me back in July to conduct a workshop for their annual design conference, I knew I had to address talking and listening. I was somewhat surprised to see that the workshop filled up so quickly and had a wait-list of twenty. I learned from the class that creatives are in search of practical and concrete answers that they can employ in their day-to-day challenges of working with others, whether it’s a client, a boss or a work partner.
People talking about the lost art of having a meaningful conversation is the reason why I developed the workshop. There seems to be a real need to relearn how to communicate with and relate to another person. How to listen and read what isn’t being said in order to gain insight to solve problems.
Brand Therapy is really for anyone and everyone who is, you know, human.
More to come on this in the next post.
Spaces available for the next Brand Therapy workshop starting mid January.
The workshop consists of 4- 1 hour group calls beginning on Jan 21, 2016. Here’s what we’ll cover in each call. These 4 hours will transform your client relationships.
Call 1: Project planning for Success
Call 2: How to communicate with clients so they truly listen
Call 3: Presenting creative work for easy buy-in
Call 4: Dealing with tough personalities
Contact Cathy Solarana for more information.