Are you really listening to your clients?

Who is your client? This is important to know. Who are they? What are their struggles? What are their fears and what provides joy?

We struggle with asking the hard questions when it comes to our clients. We don’t dig deep enough into their personal life.

What does it mean to be them? What’s it like?

How can you design for someone you don’t understand. Someone you haven’t connected with. Are they a mystery? You ever wonder if your client is going to like your design? If so, it’s because you don’t understand them and the challenges they’re trying to overcome.

You need to understand them.

How do you get to the point of knowing your client? What do you do to get them to open up to you?

You have to listen empathetically.

You have to pay attention to what they’re telling you. Sounds simple, right. We all think we’re listening, but are you? Your client wants you to be successful when it comes to designing their space. They want to have a space that solves their problem.

You need to comprehend the problem. This means you need to dig deep into their personal life. It might feel weird. I know. You entered into their life and you start asking all these questions.

They don’t know how to respond. As the Architect you need to listen more. When you listen actually listen. Let the words soak in. Don’t wait to talk. Don’t plan your next question. Actually listen to the answers they’re providing. Don’t be judgemental or confirming.

Meaning don’t give your opinion unless asked about your opinion. When a client expresses frustrations, we have a tendency to confirm the frustration. To break the possible awkwardness. We say, “Oh same with me.” Or “I went through the same thing.” We want to relate it to one of our experiences.

You don’t need to justify or accept what it is they are telling you. You don’t need to confirm their feelings. It will start to shut them down.

In your mind you are agreeing or disagreeing with what people tell you all the time. You process what it is against your own experiences. I’m trying to say let that go and focus on the feelings they are expressing to you. Reflect back those feelings.

This is listening with empathy. It’s different than our normal response to things. You have to practice responding. Focus on listening and reflecting the feeling back to the client.

They feel overwhelmed. You let them know that you hear they feel overwhelmed. This understanding allows them to open up with deeper feelings.

You’re trying to get real answers there. Real answers to hard questions. Questions that will determine the design of their space.

A design that solves a deep problem of theirs. A design that creates a better life. A design that promotes habits and marks real change for the better in your clients lives.

Listening empathetically will allow you to do this. It’s not easy. It’s extremely difficult and I need serious practice being able to do it.

We all have things we’re struggling with. We connect with the other human condition and want to provide a solution in the moment.

The pain others might be going through. We want to elevate it let them know their not alone. But now is not the time. The solution will come through the design.

Once you have listened they will seek your advice. How do we resolve the issue?

This will be your design.