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Back in the days when I was still offering design services I recall a meeting with one of my clients. We had sent them a draft of our intended design beforehand and the project manager was unsure whether the CEO would like it. When the CEO entered the room he barked at us: “So, I’ve heard your first draft is rubbish!” A minute into my walk-through of the prototype, he interrupted me to tell us how we didn’t get their company.

My stomach clenched. My lizard brain told me to immediately leave. Run, actually. But I didn’t. I continued with my story and explained why we thought that this design was, in fact, exactly who they were.

And something unexpected happened …

… they fell in love with the concept.

Not immediately. But drip by drip. Question by question. By going through all the situations in which they would tell that story. Visualising how people would react to that radically different kind of presentation. How it would make them feel. What would stick as a message.

My client — including the CEO — slowly but steadily saw how the design was indeed a perfect fit for who they were and what they intended. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on the final version and go out there to use it.

The important lesson for me was that it really pays to invest the time to understand what a client needs instead of quickly giving them what they want. And then to invest the effort of actually making them see why you think so.

Resistance and fear of change is real. Yet, if you’re patient. If you take the time to actually consider and discuss their concerns. If you’re not pushy but empathetic, then you’ll end up with a much more satisfying solution for your client.

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