Episode #129
Handling Conflict


How do you handle conflict in a design project?

Music and links from this episode

  1. Zapomnieç by Nonima
  2. Viscous by FRAIL
  3. Perfect Match by Kilyo

Line-by-line notes

  1. Every designer has worked on frustrating projects
  2. Most design projects have little bumps in the road
  3. But sometimes, they turn into full on car crashes
  4. At some point in every designer’s career
  5. They’re going to have to handle conflict
  6. This is AADA, and I’m Craig Burgess
  7. MUSIC
  8. Design projects can go wrong in a thousand ways
  9. If you’re really unlucky, they’ll go wrong in a thousand ways all at once
  10. The client can be wrong, the designer can be wrong, the research can be wrong
  11. Deadlines might get missed, emails might get missed, meetings might get missed
  12. People easily misunderstand things
  13. Seriously, there’s so much that can go wrong
  14. It’s no wonder then that experienced designers have to become conflict resolution experts
  15. Let’s talk about one of the most common ways conflict arises in a project
  16. A client making lots of changes to a design
  17. You’ve been working with a client
  18. You’ve been designing them a new logo
  19. But you just can’t seem to get it completed
  20. Every time you think you’re nearly there
  21. The client makes another change
  22. And most of the changes the client is making seem pointless
  23. What do you do?
  24. When a client is making lots of changes to any kind of design work
  25. There’s something deeper going wrong
  26. It could be the designer isn’t good enough
  27. and the client feels like they need to improve it
  28. It could be that the client is being polite
  29. and that they don’t really like the design but they’re trying to improve it stealthily
  30. Finally, it could be the client thinks they’re the designer
  31. And they merely see you as a facilitator of their ideas
  32. Whenever a design goes through more than a couple of changes
  33. And you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere with the project
  34. You can’t keep going and not saying anything
  35. At some point, for everybody’s sanity, a conversation needs to be had
  36. The air needs to be cleared
  37. In a situation like this
  38. You need to ideally get to the problem before everybody gets pissed off
  39. Which is sometimes easier said than done, because people can be excellent at hiding when they’re annoyed
  40. Then that conversation needs to be had
  41. These kind of conversations aren’t easy for anybody
  42. Nobody likes talking about negative stuff
  43. Unless you’re some kind of monster, or you’re used to that kind of thing
  44. Lay out the problem or issue clearly to your client
  45. “It seems like we’re struggling to get this piece of design work signed off”
  46. “Why do you think that is?”
  47. “What’s stopping us from getting this work signed off from your end?”
  48. Then let them talk
  49. When you’re trying to resolve a conflict, you need to encourage your client to talk
  50. You need to get every last bit out of them
  51. Every last annoyance and hangup about you needs to come out
  52. And even though that could be uncomfortable to hear
  53. Don’t be tempted to go on the offensive
  54. Don’t be tempted to elevate the situation to start to argue or fight back
  55. Let your client talk and explain the situation
  56. Once they’ve explained their entire situation, then you have the time to talk
  57. Explain your point of view, but don’t blame anybody
  58. Be polite and friendly
  59. Because at the end of the day
  60. Everybody wants the same thing
  61. The designer wants to do a good job and make the best possible thing for their client that they can
  62. and the client wants the designer to make the best possible thing they can
  63. Sometimes though, things get muddled a little bit
  64. And tensions can build up
  65. Make sure you iron them out as soon as you can
  66. And keep your projects running smoothly and stress free
  67. MUSIC
  68. This was AADA and I’m Craig Burgess
  69. I had to reuse music from episode 86 today, as Free Music Archive was down
  70. I featured:
    1. Zapomnieç by Nonima
    2. Viscous by FRAIL
    3. Perfect Match by Kilyo
  71. For a line by line rundown of this episode go over to askadesigneranythingdotcom/ep129
  72. I’m back tomorrow

Support Ask a Designer Anything