listen  one

Posted by Dana Webber on October 16, 2015

Dana  Webber Architects

The dental chair experience spawned a thought-- this is the same situation that eager clients have when they work with their architects and contractors. 

Some design professionals can be very good at what they do and can be very poor at communicating with others outside their industry.


The client, architect and contractor must work as a team communicating with intentionality, with understanding and with effort.  If the clients take the first humble step into the world of construction by educating themselves in the language and process of building, the door to communication will begin to swing open and can improve exponentially through the process.

An architect was sitting in a dental chair for that requisite bi-annual visit.  At the end of the session, the hygienist wanted the architect’s opinion on the diagnosis for further care. She looked at the architect and said

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed volutpat interdum metus quis vestibulum. Maecenas porttitor risus id nisi tempor facilisis. Suspendisse potenti. Pellentesque vitae magna id tortor euismod sodales.”  

The architect blinked, swallowed and asked what the hygienist meant. The hygienist replied:

“Fusce euismod pellentesque hendrerit. Fusce et velit a ipsum blandit imperdiet vel non turpis. Quisque fringilla egestas orci, eget consectetur justo pharetra sed.”  

The architect knew a few of the words were familiar; probably something from a college biology class, years ago.  The hygienist was young and confident, making the architect feel antediluvian.  A third attempt at a request for clarification turned up a similar result.

Finally the architect explained, “I have been an architect for twenty-seven years. I understand buildings, concrete, wood, elevators, and rebar.  I know where things go that get flushed down the toilet.  I use words like ‘polyisocyanurate’, I can discuss modified epoxy-emulsion mortar, or I can talk about the temperature of your ceiling radiation damper actuation device-- into the wee hours of the night.  But I have no idea what you just said about my oral hygiene and I particularly have no idea how I am supposed to make a decisive judgment about my treatment because I have no contextual understanding of what is coming out of your mouth!”

The architect came to an agreement with the hygienist--biannual visits would be appropriate, thanked her for the new orange toothbrush, and slipped out without further one-sided conversation.