When I was in college, one of my professors said something very profound during a lecture: “we cannot not communicate.” It took the class a second or two to get the message, but it’s true – irrefutable, in fact. Whether through words, actions or a lack thereof, we are always communicating. However, the message we actually relay can be another matter entirely.
As design professionals, what we do day in, day out is 100 percent about communication. We convey ideas through words, pictures, sketches, etc., and to get what we want, we have to make ourselves clear – crystal clear. Easier said than done, right?
Wilson’s own Cheryl Neumann likes to say, “the effect of all communication is the response you get.” In this business, it’s less about a killer design and more about how you get your point across. Believe me, everyone wants the ideal, picturesque setting at the end of the project, but if messages are getting lost in translation, the finish line will seem a lot further away.
Now we could all communicate better: more clearly, more frequently, more concisely, etc. But more importantly, it’s essential we know our audience and manage expectations—our own and others’. There are parts of this profession that are a lot simpler than we make them out to be, but in our efforts to design unique and/or inspiring spaces, we can end up saying a lot more than we mean, and that long-windedness can either confuse or bore the other party. So, if you’re not getting anywhere, try a different approach; try a manner geared toward the recipient. Otherwise, what you say may or may not be what you get. In fact, it’s a lot like this situation…
If you found yourself laughing, you’re either the client, the designer or the subcontractor. It’s funny because it’s true! That film, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (starring the incomparable Cary Grant), was made in 1948, which means nearly 70 years ago, clients and designers had the same conversations we are having today. The whole movie is full of these instances that hit close to home for those of us in this industry, and they’re equally hilarious.
We tend to think we know what we want, but when we don’t get it, we find ourselves asking, “What do you NOT understand?!” Remember communication is a two-way street. If you hit a road block, try driving the other way to get to your destination. In the end, sometimes red is red and white is white. It can be as simple as that.