I had something completely different planned for today’s manic monday post, but I decided at the very last minute that I wanted to talk about something else – CLIENTS.
Clients are necessary. Yeah, that’s a no brainer. “Duh, thanks for that, Captain Obvious.” 😉
Anyway, while clients are necessary, I find my interactions with my clients more and more interesting the more clients that I get (thank you Jesus). The first things that probably come to most architect’s mind when they think of a “client” is frustration, anger, regret, relief (mostly that the project is over and they don’t have to take calls anymore). At least, these are the assumptions that I make about other architects based on my vast knowledge and experience *pause for sarcastic effect*.
But I think the truth, for any architect, is that a client is a new opportunity, a new territory unexplored (keep your hands to yourself, no one wants to get sued), a new vision yet to be discovered and made real. Clients are our windows into DESIGN. And each design is an opportunity to do something new, something different. There’s even an opportunity for learning and for teaching. I’ve talked often about our need to properly educate and guide our clients, no?
And what, you may ask, is the real secret to working with clients and keeping the frustration, anger and regret out of the equation? Simple – communication, empathy and relationship. Architecture is not just a service pandered by an architect or designer. Architecture is a relationship, and an intimate one at that. If you can’t communicate with your client, or if you can’t help them communicate with you, and if you can’t empathize with them (put yourself in their shoes) then the relationship will die and so will the project.
So think of your clients as dates. Woo them, court them, understand them and be willing to listen to them. Again, only through communication and empathy can we hope to build lasting relationships with our clients and hope to give them the building they desire.