What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other? George Eliot
A client emailed me and needed a copies from a project I just completed for them, something very simple. Quick copies on my list and I could personally drop it off and finish my day.
At the doorstep of my client, instead of slipping the envelope into the mail slot, I decided to knock. My client came to the door and after a few seconds of pleasantries and informing my client that I have her copies, she asked “Would I like to come in.”
In George Eliot’s quotation what does it mean by not making life less difficult for each other? I can argue that I did may bare minimum. I made the copies and personally dropped them off. I am done. But, we need to look at the larger picture. My client who is retired is offering a bit of hospitality. I am keenly aware that she may not have seen anyone for a major portion of the day. I am aware that my task was simple and had other places to be. But I answered her with, “Of course I would love to.”
My client informed me she did have a cold as she gave me a wide birth for me to pass her down her hall. We spent about twenty minutes of our time discussing topics that did not pertain to the project I was assigned to. Our discussion about the project was about five minutes. I was able to asses that the project was well in hand.
Later in the month I meet with another client from the same organization. We meet at a coffee shop. For this particular project I have been involved with over the years and could complete the project quite easily. But that the thought process of arrogance. I am fully aware that this committee member had never been assigned such a project. She has another career before retirement that did not include the type of work she was asked to head up.
I steered the conversation into a get to the, get to know one another territory. I learned of her prior career. She is now retired. She spoke of travel. I was able to connect with her on that idea as I travel as well. She mentioned her last trip which was to watch her daughter swim the Gibraltar strait. I am no long distant swimmer by any means but I do swim laps every morning. I was hooked by her fascinating story and asked many questions pertaining to her daughter’s training, the process of the swim itself. She laughed and said, “It is something you can aspire to.” After that I was able to put her to ease and focus on her project. What did I learn? I was aware of her eye for detail. She asked questions she at first felt at first had no bearing on the project but, I prompted her to discuss her concerns. After she finished, her concern did have merit for this project. We were able to make changes that made sense to an outsider.
Conversation is vital to the start of all projects. Listening is so critical in any developmental stage. Being in tune with your client allows you to search for information your client may not have and you can assist them with your insight without being an overbearing bore.
My job on this project is to guide and complete the task. Guiding allows the client to be important in the helping with the outcome. It is her responsibility for the proofing and coordinating with others in her organization about the project. Not only does solid communications based upon trust allows handling of issues or questions in a calm and professional manner but, it builds a base of trust for future projects. A few extra minutes is all it takes.
Stay curious, Rox