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Dealing with clients who pretend they know nothing is so frustrating, right?

How could anyone consider themselves a well-rounded adult without a basic understanding of silicate geochemistry? Silicates are everywhere! It’s hard to throw a rock without throwing one! Randall Munroe,

The assumption of the client’s competence in the basics of our field is an insidiously expensive one to make.

 Remember the lie that if you do a great job, your clients or bosses will notice it and reward you for being indispensable and hard-working? That gets beaten out of most of us by experience sooner or later, but a lot is lost in that process.

Remember the “build it and they will come” logic, where if you make a fantastic innovation people will flock to you with money and praises? That’s a variation of the lie, and it buried many great innovative projects, if not most.

Both of these result from flawed assumptions, where we expect too much of an amateur’s ability to understand what they are seeing when they look at our work. I don’t see it as anybody’s fault, it’s just that we humans can’t all understand everything.

We can be fully functioning adults even without knowing the basic things about silicates, and our clients can be highly capable people even without knowing the first thing about what actually makes our work valuable. It’s on us to show them that, and that’s OK.

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