Problem solving

Guangzhou 25th August 2010

I am writing this while in transit in Guangzhou, China, as far as I am concerned one of the lousiest big city airports in China. It is so big and has such bad signage that you lose kilo’s walking around in frustration trying to find your way. No wonder my ticketing agent told me the airport requires a minimum 3 hours transit time! I am in for at least 4 hours if there is no major delay, something you can count on will happen… while I am at it.. the lighting is lousy as well. Though I spotted some (what looked like real) Targetti fixtures, in general the lighting levels are insufficient, inconsistent, glary and with a lot of reflective glare and in my opinion badly laid out. I know it is easy to criticize also I don’t know the history, so who ever lighting designer did this, it is not personal! I know how these projects can go totally out of hand! I have plenty such experiences.

Which brings me to the subject of problem solving…life is not so much determined by the problems that are happening to us, but by the way we react to it. As lighting designer we are continuously confronted with challenges, deadlines just being one of them. Key is how we confront those challenges (note I am calling it a challenge rather than a problem!) and the steps we take to resolving a situation.

The first step is the emotional reaction. People sometimes say nasty things, sometimes they mean it, most of the time it is just an emotional reaction on the spur of the moment. A tit for tat reaction generally does not work, as it results most of the time in an aggravated situation. In this process we need to bear in mind the hierarchical position of the person you are dealing with. Thought the person maybe an @#$%hole, he maybe the project manager or the client’s big boss. He may be a contractor who needs telling of. You may think you deserve respect, but you need to see the situation from a total perspective not just yours. So listen first, acknowledge the complaint or criticism, certainly in countries where loss of face plays an important role.  

So your second step, the actual physical reaction, will basically determine your future time and again. Where there is the need you can build your case and justify your actions, but very often acknowledging the situation goes a long way in resolving it, rather than bulldozing your way through. A commonly agreed solution brings peace. It is much nicer to work with interior designers, architects and clients that feel acknowledged and supported…life is much more pleasant in the end even though we go through rough patches first…..

PS: Just passed the mark of 300 blogs!

25. August 2010 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: lighting and culture, lighting design practice | Leave a comment

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