Editor's Note: Dear Bonnie is our truth-telling advice column from Bonnie Siegler. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and invite our readers to submit their questions directly to: DearBonnie@designobserver.com
I have a lovely friend who is not a very good designer, yet who insists on giving me “feedback” on my work whenever possible. It is making me crazy and I don’t know what to do. Thoughts?
Aggrieved in Atlanta
Unsolicited feedback can be difficult to take even when it turns out to be really good, constructive criticism. In this case, however, the advice is not only unsolicited, but also unhelpful. Assuming you want to remain friends, the best response is as follows: “Thank you. That is a very interesting perspective and I will definitely think about it.” Say it every time. Say the same thing, and nothing more. Like a mantra. It's gracious, but also lets you easily ignore the feedback. Just be glad you’re not married to her.
My client has terrible taste. I thought she hired me for my taste, but since she’s in charge her (bad) taste is trumping my (good) taste. Frankly, I assumed she hired me for my judgment but apparently I'm wrong. Help!
Bumming in Brooklyn
Nobody, and I mean nobody, thinks they have bad taste. Your client believes she is working WITH you, and is under the assumption that her taste is equally valid. And she's right. The client is always a solid half of the design equation, which makes her your equal.
You can’t do the great work you were born to do without her and her approval. So really, her taste does trump yours because she gets the final call. You need to stop questioning why she hired you and start figuring out how you can show her the light and teach her why your direction is better. In addition to coming up with the strategy, the idea, the visualization and the presentation, you also have to be able to sell your solution.
If you do it well, she won’t even know it’s happening. You will lead her down the path of good taste with such skill that she’ll end up thinking it was her decision all along. Everybody wins.
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