Communication plays a vital role in the professional life of a designer. There are, however, two types of communications that a designer carries out. The first refers to the type when a designer communicates with its audience via his designs. Such is called the ‘aesthetic communication‘ and is carried out in a very subtle, indirect and artistic manner. However, the second type concerns the communication which a professional designer carries out while dealing with professional matters. This type of communication is termed as ‘professional communication‘ and is more direct, complex and verbal.
According to my observation, designers throughout the world pay much heed to their aesthetic communication skills and efficiently engage themselves in improving and refining this ability. On the other hand, when it comes to the point of professional communication, even the most expert of the designers cut a sorry figure and turn out to be bad communicators towards their business. No matter what design domain do you belong to, you cannot undermine the importance of effective communication at any stage.
Although effective communication is vital for salaried designers as well, however, being able to communicate effectively is extremely crucial for freelance designers as they often find themselves in situation where they have to directly deal with professionals like clients, vendors and fellow designers, etc. Therefore, for all my designer fellows who are deficient in effective professional communication, here are a few Effective Communication Tactics for Designers to help you deal with it better.
Medium Matters Much
In a communication string, the medium matters much. Nowadays there are a number of communication mediums being practiced by designers. These mediums range from email, social media like Facebook and Twitter, phone calls and even a text message! However, in order to organize your communication habits, start by selecting one particular medium that is suitable for you and with whom you are communicating. Once you have selected a medium, you should stick to it throughout the process and don’t hop from one medium to another from time to time.
I would also suggest keeping your personal contact information separate from the professional one. For instance, if you are using email as a medium of communication, create a separate email address for business communication purposes. By doing so, young clients and vendors, etc. would know the most effective way to reach you, and you can have all of your communication well organized.
Set Pattern of Communication
The first step towards organizing any activity is to set a pattern for yourself. Similarly, for effective communication, set patterns or policies for your communication activities. Also, once you have set a pattern, make sure you let your receivers know about it as soon as you start the communication process.
Your pattern of communication may include; the way you want to address the receiver, your response time, the response time you expect from the receiver and an alternative medium of communication, etc. It is always good to prepare the receiver about your communication patterns beforehand in order to avoid any confusion.
Make a Written Record of Everything
One of the characteristics of professionalism is to put everything in writing as much as possible. Especially when it comes to designers who have a number of clients and many different tasks to deal with, writing everything down makes communication far easier and much more organized. Things like contact details, meeting time, date and place, pending payments and billings and even the client feedback, all these things are good to be preserved in writing.
Moreover, when you are particularly engaged in email communication with your client, one of the best practices is to document every step of communication in a thread of emails. This will enable you to provide written references for their communication with you in case of any issue.
Note: Try to keep all your communication regarding a certain topic or subject in one email thread. This will enable you and your client to immediately catch up with the history of the conversation regarding that topic.
Mind Your Manners
Manners and etiquettes are a vital part of effective communication. It doesn’t matter if your communication is verbal, written or electronic, it is important generally for every professional and particularly for a designer to mind his manners in communication. There are times when your clients get really annoying and rather rude towards you. However, any issue can be handled without losing your temper and that’s what constitutes effective communication.
As I have heavily focused on email communication throughout this post, here too I would like to point out the importance of ‘Netiquettes’. Netiquettes are the etiquettes of communication via email and comprise of a number of things to take care of while writing professional emails.
For instance, "Please" and "Thank You" are two simple words, yet they carry a great deal of meaning and are very powerful. These words are the basic etiquette of communication and are potentially influential on the sender’s image.
Note: Take your time putting together a proper and well-written message and read it over several times before you hit ‘Send’. Sometimes, just rearranging your paragraphs helps a lot.
Avoid the Particular Design Jargon
It is totally understandable that while working in a flow, designers tend to communicate in their typical industry jargon. It is not a problem when communicating with other professionals from the same industry, however, when it comes to communicating with your clients, it is suggested that you avoid the particular design jargon. Always keep in consideration your client’s level of interpretation towards our work and make it a habit to communicate as simply as possible.
If in some case, your communication requires you to write certain design jargon, try to put its meaning in brackets beside it. This will enable the receiver to understand your message well.
Professional communication had always been a fuss for creative fellows, and the same goes for the designers. However, it is not that difficult as it feels. With a little concentration and attention to the details, any designer can conduct effective communication and pave the way for progress and success.