I recently had a client who is a retired rocket scientist; he was thorough and deeply involved throughout the entire design and drawing process and had very little trouble understanding the drawings (all the way through the construction documents). We were able to function flawlessly with only verbal communication (via phone). His wife, however, was much more of a visual communicator; so I provided her various 3-D walkthroughs of their design in BIM (Building Information Modeling), and shared a variety of perspective views of the project through a combination of Revit and Skype’s Share Screen Function.
For architects and engineers, communication is vital to our success in quality design and happy clients. On a daily basis we communicate with a wide range of individuals: from engineers of multiple disciplines to first-time building clients, contractors to government officials. They have one thing in common, each having their own unique communication style. It is our job as architects to bridge the gap in order to collaborate between all of these individuals toward one goal – successful design product ready for construction.
While there are a multitude of communication forms (oral, nonverbal, physical, etc.), in design we most often encounter verbal versus visual. Verbal communication entails word messages being passed between individuals whether its written or audible. Visual relies on imagery. Both styles need a sense of understanding from each side. For architects, having the proper skill set to be able to communicate the same message either visually, or verbally is key.
With some clients it is easy to tell what works best for them; others may need some coaxing. We are all aware that ease of communication leads to smoother/happier interaction. We must be able to pin point what style works best for our cohorts. If you cannot tell if your client is more prone to verbal or visual, it is acceptable to ask what would be more helpful to them in order to best convey your design. In a recent project I had a client ask that they be called instead of being emailed, that it was easier for them to understand what was going on. We are always happy to do anything we can to assist our clients in making them more comfortable in the process.
Knowing and understanding how each type of communication type works will help you to not only improve client relations (for a smooth design and construction process), but can also help you in your personal relationships!
At EVstudio, we welcome the opportunity to go above and beyond to accommodate our clients (and potential clients). If someone knows that they can better understand what is being expressed if they can see it graphically, or need a thorough description if they have trouble understanding what is being shown, we are able to do whatever it takes to support them through the entire design process.