Few times in my professional career have I ever been offended. It happened this week. I’ve always found it a difficult balance between showing your human side to the client, while at the same time being impervious to criticism. And I can take criticism. It makes me a better person. But the circumstances surrounding this particular situation pushed me over the edge.
I didn’t lose my cool, or show (much of) my frustration to the client, but inside I was raging.
It’s these times that I need to remember that the word “professional” is not just a noun, but also a descriptor. The act of being professional can be far different from being a professional. People who are jerks should never run for public office because nobody would vote for them. Likewise, professionals who tell off clients (no matter how valid their argument) will struggle to gain more business. It’s just the nature of the beast.
In this case I’ve had to go against my normal approach to design and development, and completely detach myself from this project. I had to tell myself that whatever the client wanted, that’s what I would do, even if I thought it was a bad decision. And that’s frustrating. I enjoy taking ownership of a job, making it the best that it can be, and being proud of the results. But sometimes that’s just not possible.
So in a few weeks the project will be over and things will be back to normal. Until then, I’m opening lots of canned smiles and nods, and hoping that everything will work itself out.