The phrase is so ubiquitous in design meetings that it’s become an industry meme. But consider a more empathetic lens: with these words, a client is trying to connect with you. Similarly to when my immigrant family says “Close the lights” (i.e. “turn them off”), clients may not necessarily have the right vocabulary to articulate their design needs. As a result, we receive generic talking points disguised as design requests. Then add the complication of client teams misaligned on their own brand and you’ve got a recipe for excessive revisions, budget churn, and frustration on both sides.

Communication is the leading problem between client and provider, executive to manager, etc. Design is well placed to help address this problem by facilitating activities to build a shared vocabulary that will empower non-designers to provide the type of feedback we seek. Leah does a great job in this article highlighting some exercises that will help get the job done.