This past weekend I had lunch with one of my cousins who is a very successful fundraiser in the non-profit sector. While comparing notes on management, leadership and corporate culture, he related a behavior setting meme that he uses to help his team with their donor relationships.
He tells staff to never make the donor wrong when the donor comes to them with an objection or problem by practicing the 3 Fs. I believe this is equally applicable when in-house designers run up against clients, peers and managers with beliefs or mindsets that they’d like to change.
The First F
When a client/peer/manager comes to you with a problem or complaint that you believe to be bogus, irrelevant or of the person’s own doing and that you’d like to coach them on, first acknowledge that person by stating, “I know how you must Feel.”
The Second F
Then follow up by stating, “I was in a similar situation that made me Feel the same way.” This bonds you with the person you’d like to advise and gives you credibility when providing advice preceded by the final F which is…
The Third F
“But here’s what I Found when I was in that situation (add advice here).” This is a subtle, respectful and effective way to provide constructive criticism without putting the other person on the defensive.