Managing Ego

Any of us can be that irrational colleague who makes for an interesting day at work. All it takes is low confidence and high anxiety—and that comes with the territory. Brandon Gregory shows us how we can bolster and validate our coworkers and strengthen our own emotional resilience so we can avoid unnecessary drama and produce happier relationships.

Why Aren’t You Asking Questions?

As a designer, your job is to understand your client’s needs. Listening to what they tell you is a good place to start, but it doesn’t end there. You gain much more insight by asking the right questions. Of course, it also helps to ask the right people and ask in the right way. Janice Gervais offers some tips to turn you into a better designer/detective.

Finding Opportunities in the Mistakes We Make

You flung yourself headlong into your career. Suddenly you realize you’re barely keeping your head above water and you’re not even sure where you’re going. Time to reflect, says Clarice Bouwer, and do some small experiments designed to find the course corrections that will get you back on solid ground.

Impulses and Outcomes

When a designer becomes known for a certain look or style, it could be a sign that they’re held in thrall by something in their own personality or individual life experience. Matt Griffin reminds us that design is a service intended to be tailored to the client. To best meet the project’s and the client’s needs, recognize when you’re hanging on to a limited selection of personal design tropes.

Defeating Workplace Drama with Emotional Intelligence

Workplace drama, coworker and client irrationality: these seem like forces of nature that we have no way to prevent or control. Brandon Gregory shows us the emotional calculus at the heart of the tempest. Try this formula on any behavior that makes no sense, and it will help you understand what’s going on and what you can do to help.

Understanding the Emotional Response

Validating emotions isn’t a glorified psychological process; part of our work is to hear our colleagues and clients out. Kelsey Lynn Lundberg shows us how we can identify the underlying needs—security, freedom, identity, worth—that drive emotional responses, and how to translate those needs into productive discussions to keep our teams moving forward.

Resetting Agency Culture

When we prioritize billable hours over people, our work environments can take a turn for the tense. Some agencies try to combat low morale with foosball and fancy perks, but what really matters is investing in people: fostering a workplace that supports dialogue, collaboration, and professional development. From onboarding new hires to ongoing engagement, Justin Dauer shares some starting points for a healthy office dynamic and confident, happy employees.

The Specialist-Generalist Balance

Specialists? Generalists? It’s not a question of which is better, but about finding the right mix for your team and your work. Specialists offer valuable expertise, but over-reliance on specialization isn’t always good for workflow—too many niches can lead to silos, bottlenecks, and poor communication. Garin Evans recommends that, instead, we build teams that play off the best traits of specialists and generalists, encouraging collaboration and innovation as we go.

Conference Proposals that Don’t Suck

Conference proposals seem simple enough: throw your thoughts into a text form on a website, keep them within the suggested word limit, and hit send with high hopes of winning over organizers. But there’s much more to a successful conference proposal than meets the eye, and Russ Unger is here to walk through the steps involved with getting your germ of an idea into a polished state that will impress any committee.