Be More Pleasant Than Nice

Some great advice on getting and finding (design) clients in this piece from A List Apart.  One of the sections was particularly worth sharing:

Be Pleasant, Don’t Be Nice

We once received a call from a gentlemen who said, “[redacted] referred me to you. He said that you wouldn’t be shy about telling me I was wrong, you’d probably piss me off, and that I should listen to everything you said because it would work.”

I was delighted.

That said, you should aim to be pleasant to work with, as everyone would rather work with someone pleasant than with an asshole. But no one wants to work with someone who’s faking it. Doing good work often requires a few hard conversations.

There’s a difference between being enjoyable to work with and being “nice.” Being nice means worrying about keeping up the appearance of harmony at the expense of being straightforward and fully engaged. Sometimes you need to tell a client they’re making the wrong call. Part of client services is being able to do that without coming off as a dick. But being afraid to do it because you’re too invested in being “nice” is worse than being a dick.

No one is hiring you to be their friend. They’re hiring you to design solutions to problems. But if they can get the same solution from someone who’s pleasant and someone who’s a jerk, they’ll go with the former.

Check out the entire article.  It is an excerpt of the book Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro (his presentation F*uck you. Pay Me. is NSFW, but worth a listen).

3 Responses to Be More Pleasant Than Nice
  1. Joel Ungar
    April 30, 2012 | 2:04 pm

    Excellent. Going to check out the entire article as you suggest.

  2. Anne Roberts
    May 1, 2012 | 9:35 pm

    I find the posts here very useful. Sometimes, telling your client that he/she is making a wrong call is like a piece of art that should be handled delicately. It’s hard but absolutely necessary.

  3. Minnie
    August 10, 2012 | 4:10 pm

    It is so true. There are times when you really need to be told off if you don’t want to mess up your life. No one is expected to make all the right choices in life anyway. However, we would want this telling off to be done quite decently so as not to destroy our whole being. This is what my friends and I usually do to each other. We’re not the type to shout at each other, to fight or to shut each other off when the times are tough, but we do advice each other honestly. That should be the best client-service provider relationship too.

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