There’s a great column in the most recent Communication Arts magazine called We Are the Zombies. While it has a corporate bent, the principles Ernie discusses are valid for all of us. How often have you presented an idea to a client, only to have them initially embrace it, and then back down to something less audacious, something less compelling, something less true? It’s of course because they’re afraid of what would happen if they embraced the art and what it meant. It would mean taking a stand. Whether this is to someone’s risk-averse boss or to the mother-of-the-bride who holds the purse strings, their fear (what Seth calls the lizard brain) can easily overcome their initial sense of delight with what you’ve created for them.
The solution comes into play with an identification of what motivates the decision-maker. A few well-placed questions about what’s important, what could go right, what could go wrong, and gently addressing solutions to each of those conundrums can go a long way toward acceptance. Instead of being someone trying to plug their idea, you become a trusted partner, someone to whom they can reach to for advice, someone on their side, someone looking out for their best interests. So when presenting, think less of the benefits of the design/object/process itself, and think about how well the design/object/process resolves your client’s problems.
After all, at this point you’re not creating your art. You’re just helping your client recognize that your art is right for them.