I just witnessed quite a lively discussion between two fellow coworkers–one an editor, the other a designer–about a print piece they’re working on for one of our clients. It was quite the dance of strong opinions, preference clarification, and very direct communication. For some, this might have proved a recipe for disaster, but for these two, there was a groundedness to the conversation, held together by mutual respect and dedication to reaching a great outcome.
I was just a passer-by when I got pulled into their conversation. “What do you think?” they asked. Never one to shy away from opinion-giving whether Web or otherwise, I threw in my two-cents worth and then some. Then I realized as the discussion went on, my opinion wasn’t really necessary, so I sat back and more quietly observed. They were at a bit of a stand still as there were a few ideas that led to the same stalemate. Out of curiosity, I stuck around to see what would happen next.
Rather than showing fists of fury or a dogmatic need to prove one’s point simply to win, this discussion was clearly energized by sound expertise and solid conviction that there was an answer that wouldn’t end in half-hearted compromise. In a fashion true to our general office culture, these colleague-friends were committed to problem-solving by putting their true ideas in the table, risking by being direct in their feedback, and finding a solution to the challenge they wanted to surmount together.
I continued to observe this creative process unfold. They weren’t so stuck on their own opinion that they weren’t willing to listen. Instead, these colleagues held their ground per their expertise while trying to find a new path that addressed both of their concerns. They were insistent, “There’s got to be a better solution we haven’t thought of yet that will make this piece better!”
Their third account teammate came into the office. “Hey!” they exclaimed motioning to the colorful marketing piece on the screen. “What do you think of this?” Ah… familiar words. =)
So I left my colleagues to it but not before asking them to update me on the solution they’d reach. I was confident that as they kept looking for solutions together, fully committed to the process and the outcome, and taking risks by brainstorming and honestly sharing their perspectives, they would indeed find the answer they desired.
Later that evening, my designer-colleague popped into my office to tell me that while they hadn’t reached a conclusion yet, they agreed to shelve the conversation and revisit it in the morning. “It’s good though,” she reassured me as she smiled wide, “because we’re going to make it [this piece] even better!” And with that, she turned with a flourish and continued down the hall.
I smiled to myself as I reflected on the exchange. They’ll make it better… indeed.
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