Oh how I love revisions. As a designer, I’m pretty used to them. People used to pay me for design time, which means I was billed out for creating and revising over and over again until the client was satisfied. The more hours, the more money, the more profit…
As a general rule, in the office furniture business, the client is really never wrong… even when they are. This concept is something most people in customer service and sales are used to. The client is the dictator. If he wants red fabric on his cubicle walls, he better have it, and have it tomorrow, or you might lose the sale… you might get a bad review. When asked, you, as the service provider, just make it happen (whether that means HUGE change orders or staying late on the weekend).
I learned early on, as a designer in this niche industry, that when the client said jump I had either better do it (with a smile) or be strong enough to defend why they might want to reconsider their request. My former boss always said I was great at my job because I was able to defend my designs and was confident enough in my ability that the clients usually listened to my suggestions and trusted my expertise (as they should).
I learned to stand up for my work and yet I tried (not so well at the end of my life as a cubicle guru, to be honest) to be flexible enough to make changes when the client just couldn’t be convinced. I learned not to take it so personally. It was their space, their company and their vision. I was just the executor, really. And this made it easier to take constructive criticism.
There was one instance, after ordering $800,000 worth of furniture, a client asked me to revise the entire 4th floor. The product was literally on its way… and yet, I did it for them. Was I pissed? Sure. I had been unsuccessful in defending my design. And yet I made the revisions work and it didn’t make me doubt my abilities an ANY way. In fact, the mere experience of making all those changes after product had been ordered made me feel like a better, stronger and more resilient designer. So, why do I doubt my skills as a writer when I’m asked to revise things in my new job?
Perhaps this is because in my current position, I’m kind of the client and the designer all in one. If I write something for the team, it’s my vision; it’s my idea, my strategy. There is no client… there is just me and the three other people I have to convince of my talent and expertise. And it seems, defending my ideas or designs doesn’t exactly work the same way in this business…
I think there is definitely something behind working in an entirely different building than the client you are trying to please. I used to turn around in my desk and rant to my dearest friend and coworker, J4 about any unreasonable (or totally reasonable) request. Then I would feel better and move on. I can’t exactly do that now… since the person next to me is the one asking for the change.
There must be a way to find some detachment. Maybe it was easier to do this with office furniture and cubicles because, well, um… you can’t put all that much heart and soul into the creation of an amazing cubicle. Yes, I designed them, yes I was passionate about them, but they’re cubicles. Need I say more?
Writing comes from deeper inside. It’s something that matters to me on a personal level and perhaps that is why it stings more when my work is criticized?
Alas, revisions are a part of the process. Love them or hate them they will NEVER go away. I need to find a way to take in all the criticism without feeling like a failure.