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What are the most important things to consider when you communicate with clients as an architect?

I am a junior in high school and architecture has captured my attention; I enjoy art, collaboration and math/physics. After doing some research and meeting with architects near me in Minnesota, I have realized the importance of a strong communication ability. I would like to know tips about communication from someone who has experienced what works and what does not work.
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David E.’s Answer

Architects need to be able to actively listen to their clients, decipher and interpret the stated goals or objectives of a particular design project or challenge and then explain that back to the client in terms that relate to the actual project in a way that the client can then envision the project. While for some, this might be an innate talent, however, for the many, it is learned through trial and error. In the study of architecture, one learns the common terms that allow for quickly discussing concepts and variables with colleagues and consultants, the challenge in communicating with the client is gauging their ability to grasp these concepts and understanding when it's proper to reinterpret this language into understandable alternative examples and concepts. Remember too that architects employ strong graphic symbols (renderings, drawings, concept diagrams, spreadsheets, schedules, etc.) in the art of their communication and these are powerful tools for expressing intent to clients.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Nora
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Eric’s Answer

Nora,

You will want to first listen, digest what the customer is saying and wait for them to ask your input. Never assume you know more then they no matter how long or how educated you are. There is so much information at our fingertips.

"A wise man will hear and increase in learning."

Thanks,

Eric D
Thank you comment icon This is really helpful, thank you! Nora
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Vandana’s Answer

Understanding the client, their needs and their vision of the project - I would think is the most important thing. Communicate with them with passion as if this is your own project, get in their shoes, make them feel comfortable and show you are confident with the decisions you make.
Especially with clients who are new and if it their first project- they will need a lot of hand holding. Walking them through the entire process is important- explaining the cost structure and time required for design and construction. This will truly determine if they are committed to the project or not.
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Jose Luis’s Answer

Great question. Personally, my head is full of what some call trivia. I know a lot of things about a lot of things. As architects we encounter in our clients or prospective clients people from different cultures, social and economic backgrounds, religions and ages, just to name a few. Being able to communicate with people on wide ranging topics can help to put people at ease. Any project big or small can be a major undertaking for the client.
If possible it would be helpful to research the client via social media for individuals and websites for organizations to get an initial understanding of them. Then in your first meetings you can use what you have learned to communicate effectively. And from your meetings you can take note of more personal characteristics, likes and dislikes even down to mannerisms or even fashion choices. All of your observations and even, intuition, put to good and positive use can get the process off to a solid start. You’re being asked to participate in a journey where clear communication throughout is incredibly important. Once the project is awarded, communication between the client, consultants and contractors needs to be clear and expedient. As someone else answered, we have at our disposal the ability to communicate verbally and in writing but of course, graphically.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for your help! Nora
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