Thursday, September 19, 2013

HOW TO GIVE NOTES (that people actually want to listen to)

Some creative people are quiet.

Some are outgoing.

Some are jerks.

Some are nice people.

The one thing all truly creative people have in common however, is that they care deeply about their work and how others perceive it.  Whether you are a director who is unhappy with the way an editor has cut something together, or a wife who is unhappy with how her husband painted the living room - you need get your point across.  You are in a disagreement, and you want it solved with as little headache as possible.

So how do you get them to see it your way without resorting to physical threats or force?  Here are my thoughts...

Consider this:

Why should somebody else (who has no knowledge of what is inside your head) believe that you know better than they do?  While you were away doing lord knows what, this other person has put countless hours into perfecting their work.  From there perspective there is no way you could understand what they are doing as intimately as they do.  To them, you are just a person who came in to judge something that you know nothing about.

Assuming you just know better is a very easy trap for any creative to fall into and nobody wants to take orders from somebody who knows less than they do.

So how do you overcome the trap?


The person who tends to have the most authority on a project also tends to be the person who knows it the best.  Take the time to allow your collaborator to show you their work and explain their inspirations/ideas.  Ask questions.  Get deeper and keep your opinions to yourself until they are fully finished giving their side.  By doing this you are allowing 2 wonderful things to happen:

1) You are absorbing everything that they have to offer and adding it to your arsenal.

2) You are demonstrating to your collaborator that you are listening to where they are coming from, you are taking the time to understand their point of view, and you deeply care about the work they have done.

Once your collaborator feels that they have given you all that they can, you are now in a position to make critiques.  You have earned this authority because you have absorbed everything they can offer you.  You now have both your experience to draw from, and theirs as well - meaning you have the most understanding.  You have the authority.

Now is the time to engage them on their level.  Remember what was important to them, what worked for them, and what did not.  Use this knowledge as your main tool to communicate your changes.  During the times when you just don't see eye to eye, it is helpful to tell them in detail what you like about their approach before telling them why your approach is a better fit.

Take the time.  Sometimes you will come out of the meeting with the exact same conclusions you had in your initial gut reactions.  Other times you will come out with something even better than what you had in mind.

It works.  I swear.

So next time you need to give notes and that urge to immediately rattle off everything that is wrong starts to bubble up - remember to listen first.  You will get your way in the end, and your collaborators will be happier for it.

1 comment:

  1. That is awesome. I think we have had this very discussion in the distant past. Nice job!