It was about 5.50am when I realised I had forgotten to tell someone at work something extremely important the day before. Luckily, because this is 2019 and I am never more than about a foot from my mobile phone, I was able to send a quick email with an even quicker apology. Hopefully this reached her in time and mitigated what would be (in my view) disaster. I’m actually talking about a typo in a marketing email.
So, how did this happen?
I gave my feedback to her verbally.
How, after so many years practicing talking to people, do I still suck so much at this? I talked her through a few other things that needed to change, was happy that I’d finished, and walked quickly back to my desk.
Ordinarily for proofreading tasks, I’d mark up a Word or Google doc, secure in the knowledge that my typed communications are so much better than when my brain tries to come out through my mouth.
It occurred to me that having Asperger’s means I use more mental faculties to communicate verbally and face-to-face, which effectively sucks up valuable resource from the rest of my brain. I may have planned a conversation before I start it, but when it actually happens my brain is effectively put on a rollercoaster with no seatbelts and asked to hold on. I could also liken it to having static interrupting your radio station – making you miss valuable bits of information, or making you forget which questions you needed to ask.
I’ve had several work conversations where I’ve needed to go back later for more information. Sometimes as soon as I walked away I’d realise I meant to ask something else. So, another day, another face palm. And it doesn’t even help to know this – because how do I know what I’m going to miss next? I won’t know until I realise I’ve missed it.
I feel a strange urge to bang my head on the desk, but perhaps a decaff coffee would be kinder.
I hope you’re all having better days.
Today, I come cap in hand looking for reassurance and guidance. I’m not too proud to admit, I’m a bit stumped today. Let me explain…
I recently acquired a new client and I have been working very hard to complete their project. It’s a copywriting project – my first non-editing role in over a year! I quoted, all was agreed, the deposit paid, and the working relationship seemed to be developing nicely. But…
Today I found out that my client thinks my quote is effectively a cumulative piece rate. She has divided my charge by the number of resultant pages and thinks this is the way forward for future work. This is not it at all – and I now have to explicitly, yet diplomatically, sort the misunderstanding out before I’m doomed to an untenable working relationship.
This happens so often with copywriting – and probably other services too. Clients don’t understand that it doesn’t come down to the number of words or pages. It’s about getting the right message across in the right way for the right people. It’s about the tone of voice and choice of words. It’s about the research involved, and the level of your copywriter’s experience and expertise. There are many contributing factors, it’s not like you’ve put a monkey in front of a typewriter and promised it one banana per page.
But that’s enough of the copywriter’s rant. My real issue here is the communication with my client. I am really hoping that my email is suitably diplomatic. I was aiming to be assertive, but not an a**hole. Speaking as someone with Asperger’s, I have no way of knowing if I’ve achieved that. Even if the client writes back and says that’s fine, I don’t know if she’s secretly fuming, or confused, or fed up.
So tell me – where’s the line between assertiveness, and that other a-word? Can an Aspie really learn to spot the difference?
PS. If you’d like to have a rant about how your professional services are misunderstood or under-appreciated, go ahead in the comments! I love a good rant.