That's not finished, is it?


Reading A.J.'s post about tact got me thinking about the whole subject. I've never been a candidate for any awards in this department. Whenever I have been asked for my opinion, I have always tried to offer it honestly. I know there have been times when what I had to say was not what the other person wanted to hear. And I know that, sometimes. I was not really being asked for my opinion but rather for praise.

I have been on both sides of this. There have been many times when I proudly displayed a piece of work, expecting to be lavished with praise, only to be told, in one way or another, that my efforts had not produced a masterpiece.

The worst time to receive such an opinion is when you are delivering a project and expecting to be handed a check. At that point, any expression of anything less that ecstatic joy on the part of the customer can pull the rug right out from under you.

I remember once building a large cabinet that held a Murphy bed but was supposed to look like an armoire. The design called for a very dark, rustic looking piece. I had worked with the client's designer and had matched both the color and texture he had specified pretty closely so I was expecting that the client had been clued in on what to expect. But when I proudly uncovered the piece in the client's driveway, she simply (and literally) burst into tears. Needless to say, my ego was instantly crushed like a stepped on aluminum soda can. And in the same moment, a vision appeared in my mind of my check sprouting wings and flying away. I ended up refinishing the whole thing and eventually I got it to where the client was happy with it.

Learned a lesson there. Actually I learned a couple but I'll go into those later.

Other things you don't want to hear when you deliver a project (I have heard them all at one time or another):

"That's not finished, is it?"

"Is that what I'm getting?"

"Wasn't that supposed to be lighter?"

"Oh, my husband/wife is going to have to look at this."

"Maybe you shouldn't bring it in just yet."

"Uhh … umm … err …"

"But what about the …?"

Feel free to add to the list.


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That’s for me to know …

There have been numerous times throughout my woodworking career when people have asked me how I do this or that. Sometimes it’s just curiosity. Sometimes it’s some who wants to do it themselves and is in need of guidance. And, sometimes it’s a competitor who has underbid a job he doesn’t really know how to do.