Michael Allan
23rd December 2015

To finish off this year on a happy note I thought I'd write a little piece about love. It is the festive season after all and it's a time when we should think of others and spread our generosity and kindness to all. So let's start by falling in love with our client.


Omnia vincit amor.

In the early BCs the ancient Roman poet Virgil stated that “Love conquers all” a little sappy and certainly a phrase or even a feeling that you wouldn’t associate with a business relationship. But why? Love, enthusiasm, excitement are some of the most powerful and positive emotions. Why shouldn’t we bring them to the workplace?

I’m not saying that we should be getting down on one knee and professing our undying love in a gross display of Byronian poetry (although I’d love to see that in a client meeting). My point is that emotions, even positive ones seem to be seen as weakness in the workplace. “One must be professional” - Think about how much weight and preconceived notions are loaded in that sentence.

Why is love important?

I love design and I’m very lucky that some is willing to pay me for it! No one design challenge is the same, I have no template and get to start from scratch every time. I get to fall in love with the process every time. This love and energy for what I do shouldn’t simply be focused on what I’m doing, rather projected out to whom I’m doing it with.

These emotions are infectious, this energy and excitement will spread like a virus. When people are genuinely excited about something it can effect an entire team, boost motivation and create better results.

It's the little things.

When you start any relationship it’s new and exciting, you want to learn about them and discover what makes them tick. With a client we call this the “The discovery phase”. We perform stakeholder and user interviews, collect a bunch of data, learn more about the brand and process it all so we have a shared understanding of the project ahead.

We don’t fall in love with someone as a whole. We discover small details about them over time that makes us smile or intrigue us: is it the way their eyes twinkle or that infectious laugh? As you discover new things about the client, their product or their users, find the hooks which resonate with you at an emotional level. This doesn’t have to be every aspect of the project but it’s important to find those small details which YOU love and get excited about.

Show them that you genuinely care

By finding those details that resonate with you, the details you truly care about, you start to “fall in love”. You start to care about the thing you’re going to design. The thing about falling in love is that you now have a vested interest. This is not merely a contractual obligation you must fulfil to get paid you NOW care about this at a personal level.

Enter the emotions.

Welcome back love, enthusiasm, energy and excitement. Replay what you know about the client fuelled by these emotions and you build trust. They believe that you actually care about this project and their goals, not simply your own. Keep these emotions going throughout the project and your enthusiasm and energy filters to others. You build an environment where that energy bounce back and creativity can flourish.

Love conquers all

So don’t be afraid for people to see your emotions at the workplace, they are more valuable than you think and can motivate you and the others around you to the benefit of any project and yourselves.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and good festive wishes to all of you.

This was originally published on my own site.