The next time you find yourself collaborating with a creative professional it might be helpful to read this article from MarketingProfs.
Having worked in corporate environments in the past, I am familiar with of some of the issues mentioned in the article, which are by no means isolated to in-house designers. Understanding how creative people work and engaging with us in the spirit of collaboration can pay off in tangible ways: your designer will feel less pressured and ultimately, you’ll be fully understood. Calm and clear communication always leads to better solutions.
As Dalai Lama advised a crowd of Americans many years ago, “Smile more often.” Frowning rarely leads to beautiful problem solving.
Contrary to a baffling belief that designers, like magical unicorns, effortlessly pull great designs out of thin air, the vast majority of us put very real time and sweat into creating visual solutions to our clients’ very real problems. Although it’s true that, from time to time, the design angels smile upon us, allowing our first comps to hit the mark like an arrow shot from the quiver of William Tell, more often than not, we engage in a creative process that unfolds more like a creative struggle–one where the designer challenges her own assumptions and keeps pushing and iterating until she reaches a beautiful and satisfying outcome.
It’s during this creative process of wrestling through a visual problem that outside distractions can throw the designer off-course. This is true for anyone knee-deep in a task that requires focused attention, such as writing a coherent blog post, crafting a proposal, deciding the virtues of cake vs. death, or pondering the best way to catalyze someone you’re coaching.
In my opinion, which is could be biased but is also based upon decades of direct experience, the number one practice we can embrace to improve creative collaboration is to simply slow down the communication cycle. This means being kind to the creative person’s non-linear, out-of-the-box wiring. Instead of sending myriad emails throughout the day containing one or two random ideas, have patience with your own thought process. Take some time to gather a list together rather than piecemealing ideas to your web designer. Reading your emails out loud to make sure they are clear and coherent is also an effective way to fine tune your communication and writing skills. (Pretending I’m Hamlet, holding a skull in one hand while speaking in an Olde English accent works wonders.) The simple act of granting yourself some creative space to allow ideas to percolate will bring clarity to your communication while allowing your team to work with fewer distractions on the task that is right in front of them.
There is freedom and beauty in pausing as opposed to rushing ahead of ourselves. Before sending out a quick email, take a moment to double-check the subject line of your message while asking: Is the title of this note–the one my designer will scan her inbox for–communicate the content and context of this message? This one thing could revolutionize email communication worldwide, if only we could remember to do it. It’s so easy to forget, but if you hit “reply” on a thread that has been on the topic of font choices with a critical, yet unrelated question about SEO, chances are higher your query will be overlooked in the bustle of project development.
Like any healthy relationship, creative collaboration requires open and clear communication. If we all keep these easy reminders and practices in mind while working together, there’s sure to be more joy and less anxiety, yielding even more beautiful results for your valuable investment of time and money.