What do you expect from clients?

The guys at 37 Signals point out the familiar scenario: “We get it. But our clients will never understand.” Matt Linderman writes in their recent blog entry:

Read between the lines and there’s a disturbing undercurrent to that message. It’s really saying, “I get it but these other people could never understand. They don’t have the wisdom and the understanding that I do.” It’s like the way some LA or NYC people sound when they talk down about the masses in the flyover states. It’s insulting.

But, of course, your clients can handle a lot more than you think. You just need to guide them. In fact, it’s part of your job as a creative professional.

“Start out by agreeing on your common goal: to create the best final product possible,” Matt says. “Agreeing on a common goal is an old Dale Carnegie technique that works well because it gets everyone to realize they’re on the same team and fighting for the same thing. You start getting “yes” immediately.”

“Then steer them in what you think is the best direction. Take the initiative. Set expectations. Explain why you want to do it a new way. Tell them how you think the project should go.”

“Will this approach lose you the job? If it does, maybe it’s a bad fit in the first place.”

“Don’t assume ignorance. People live up to the expectations placed upon them. If you assume intelligence and flexibility from your clients, you just might get it.”


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Robert Hyndman

can be reached at his Laguna Beach studio, 949.497.3179, or by using the form on the Contact Me page.
December 2008
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