31 Jan 2013
Telling your client “no” is a bad idea.
Except when it isn’t … but saying “no” is a practice you should try to avoid.
I don’t like to say no and I’ll always try to find a way to avoid saying it to someone. I’m not talking about if someone asks me if I would like a red-hot poker stuck in my eye (that answer will always be a “no”) but rather when a client tells me they want to paint their walls a mixture of ‘Ox Blood’ red and ‘Eggplant’ purple.
but in stripes.
… in the children’s bedroom
… to play off the clown marionettes they plan on hanging from the ceiling.
My brain is telling me that I should say no to this idea which, in all fairness, is probably not a sound design direction in most cases. Rather than saying “no”, I will say:
“Okay, let’s talk about the pro’s and con’s of that decision.“
What happens next is I talk through the process and results of that decision. A vast majority of the time, the client will decide for themselves that this is not the right move …
… and I didn’t have to tell them no and I didn’t embarrass them by pointing out that their great idea was not as great as they thought.
The results of taking this approach (which is really more of a process) goes beyond the occasional dodging a bad color scheme that leads to years of all sorts therapy (mental and aroma). What we have created is ownership and investment in the project from the client because now they’ve played an active role in the decision-making process. It has also created an atmosphere of collaboration between me and my client. Rather than coming across as the arrogant architect who doesn’t listen to their clients wishes, I’m the architect (with the foxy silver hair) who actually listens.
To really appreciate something, you have to understand it and by walking through the cause and effects of the decision-making process, the client understands completely why certain decisions have been made. This isn’t an architectural thing – it’s a human being thing and it works with everyone everywhere just about all the time.
… and it’s pretty nice to tell somebody no without actually having to be the one to tell them no.