The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.

– Peter Drucker

This post is not about aesthetics or appeal, but another side of design many don’t really discuss: How people work. Today I’d like to explain how I work, how I do my job. This does not appear in any specific order and is not in regard to my design process.

/ Word for Word

In my past life I worked at Starbucks. Shocker right! An artist working at Starbucks! Best lesson: in a supervisory role you really need flexibility in your style of communication. From that experience I have learned how to coax more succinct answers out of people: taking them beyond “I like that” to “I think this detail could be a more prominent feature.”  As a designer, though you may not technically have a management title, you are managing many personalities and communication styles and you, the designer, have to determine the most effective style of communication.

Notebook sketches with a pencil/ A Bit Sketchy

I truly believe that everything begins with a pencil and paper. I map out websites with pencil and paper, page spreads, web posts, collateral materials. I always begin with pencil and paper. The changes I make are faster by hand and it’s the medium I’m most comfortable with. Some people can jump right into InDesign or Illustrator and go to town, but that’s not me.

/ The Human Touch

I believe in the importance of human interaction and reactions. It is very difficult to convey, and interpret, emotional nuance textually. Though I may not be sitting in front of my clients all the time, I do request regular meetings via phone call or face-to-face e-calls, such as Skype or Google hangout. This way, I can gauge their reaction and make effective design decisions based on what they’re not saying.

/ Diplomacy is the Best Policy

It is the bedrock of any business. If I didn’t have the people in my life earlier on in my career, I probably wouldn’t really have a career. As a young, bright eyed 20-something, I was ready to take on the world. Occasionally that confidence (or was it arrogance?) created obstacles for me. I was honest. At times a little too honest. It’s not always your job to rip off the band aid. But my friends and peers have taught me to be more diplomatic in how I approach communication: always be polite; always be professional; and most importantly, choose your words wisely.

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