so you want to be a designer? part viii. communication

i think i must have a real gift for getting people to work for me, whose whole purpose in life seems to be to teach me patience and to bite my tongue.

the new hire and i seem to have real issues with communication -- *everything* has to be spelled out in painstaking detail for him, and it's driving me berserk. a few examples:

#1: remember his first day? enough said.

#2: i hand him a job folder, with printouts of the images that need to be edited, and the location of the images on the network server. on the printouts, i have clearly written 'delete' and put the proofreader's mark for 'delete' on every part of the image i want deleted (the icons). i said, 'these images are good, except for the icons i want deleted,' and show him each printout. 'delete all the icons, as i've marked them.'

he sends them back a couple of minutes later with all the icons but one deleted from each image. and worse, he's decided to cc the client on this. and he misspells her name. and he cc'ed Boss.

i fixed it, but sheesh.

#3: he comes in and tells me he's having problems opening up a file. okay, fine. i try opening up the file, and it's fine. we'll call this file A, which should go with project A.

he then tells me project B is ready to look at. i think, 'that was fast,' and open it up. instead of using client B's files for project B, he's used file A and slapped an image from project B on it. i walk over to his desk, explain which file goes with each project, again. he's contrite. i ask him to tell me in his own words what he's going to do next. he seems to understand.

he works on it for a while, then sends me an email saying he's done. i go and look for it in project B's directory. there's nothing there. so i go and look in project X's directory (which he was supposed to use as a template for project B). sure enough, he's deleted all of project X -- and replaced it with project B files.

i explain to him that when i said, 'use project X as a template,' that means to open up a file from project X and save it in the project B folder. again, contrition, and on his own he emails the IT helpdesk to ask for the files to be restored. i didn't think i needed to explain what templates were, but apparently, i did.

frustrated, i go through project B, print out each page, and mark it up. i thought about marking it up complete with type size and leading notations, but that seemed like overkill. i call him into my office, and read him every single change, which is something i consider really insulting. this is something i'll stop clients from doing to me. he says, 'i'm glad you printed out the pages, because that's what most design houses do.'

i masterfully resist the temptation to be snide, and instead say, 'if that's what works better for you when getting instructions, that's what i'll do.' as he gets up to leave, i said, 'look, take your time. don't rush through this. go back and review it before you show it to me again.'

now, there's nothing wrong with being literal to that level. it's just that i am not literal, at all. i score off the chart on being a big-picture kind of thinker. off-the-chart as in, teachers when i was young, test administrators, and now HR people at my job administering the test say, 'wow, we've never seen anyone score that high in that area,' off-the-chart. i am a seriously abstract thinker, not a concrete one. most of the difficulties in my daily life result from having to cope with concrete things, like when bills get paid or where i last put something.

so now that i think about it, i suspect my preference for giving someone the big picture and expecting that they'll infer the rest, is running right into a need to have everything spelled out.