Two articles posted this week by artist friends on Facebook (“Six Fonts that Piss People Off” written by Cliff Kuang and posted by Tim Frick, Owner and Creative Director of Mightybytes* and “8 Ways to Drive a Graphic Designer Mad” by Ghislain Roy, posted by graphic designer Tom Deja of Bossman Graphics) struck me as apt analogies to intercultural communications.
“Artists look at blocks of copy as visual elements with no connection to meaning,” laments Jerry**, a veteran ad agency exec, when decrying his frustration with artists. “Except for the part where no one can actually figure out what the product is, the design is fine,” he might ad, looking at a work of ‘artistic brilliance’.
On the flip side, who knew Comic Sans was the bane of so many designers’ existence (can you say PTA flyer)?
Here are three telltale signs that intercultural issues might be afoot:
- 1. You just don’t get the other person’s perspective. THEY are being unreasonable.
- 2. You think THEY’RE being WAY too sensitive. After all what’s the big deal between Antiqua and Fraktur?
- 3. There’s an historical context and evolution that gives context to the current dispute (a la the evolution of institutional inequities).
And here are three things to remember to help improve communication:
- 1. Meeting someone with a different perspective is an opportunity to listen and learn. Start from the assumption that all have good will and want positive outcomes.
- 2. It’s okay to acknowledge and dare I say, respect subject matter expertise (e.g. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overheard my Brazilian husband having to listen to someone who’s never been to Brazil boorishly telling him what Brazilians are really like.)
- 3. Look at the insider insight as a gift to avoid the slip of ‘unconscious bias.’ Would you really want to use the official typeface of the Nazi party, if you knew?
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.”
My only question, fella’s, is why’d you send these articles to me?
* Mightybytes designed this blog. **Name has been changed so my Dad doesn’t get in trouble. Photo credit Bee Forks