Good Communication Is Essential on Construction Projects
Let’s talk good communication.
The famous playwright George Shaw wrote that “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
We all communicate every day, but is our communication effective?
One of the most important aspects of managing a construction project is being able to communicate and interact with people.
People in construction come from diverse cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds. Messages that aren’t crafted to accommodate the diversity of your construction team create misunderstandings. So do emails.
Emails Don’t Always Create Good Communication
Unfortunately the preferred communication for many is via emails. I had a boss who often sent emails to a manager sitting only a few offices away. They’ve then responded by email. Several emails later, they finally resolved the original problem.
How much easier would it have been to walk to the other person’s office and discuss and resolve the problem? It would certainly have been quicker. Now emails do provide a record of an important item so they’re often essential. But frequently, you can resolve problems or issues by talking on the phone. Old-fashioned, face-to-face talks go a long way!
One of the problems with an email is that it’s much easier to say something horrible or be dismissive of another’s email than it would be if you were talking to the person directly. We can judge by the person’s body language or voice when they take offence at something we’ve said, so we can often smooth the issue over immediately, or explain ourselves better when misunderstandings arise.
I’ve been involved with a non-profit organisation transitioning to a new accounting system. We’ve sent strings of emails backwards and forwards with little resolution of issues. Some emails have been ignored and some have been misunderstood. On occasion, emails have become quite irate and have offended people.
Only after talking in person did we understand and resolve these problems. By actively explaining and listening to problems and the proposed solutions it has been possible to resolve many issues. A few discussions have quickly short circuited the long email exchanges.
Conclusion – Good Communication Is Essential (and Possible) in Construction
It’s vital to be understood, but it’s also important that one listens to the other person. All too often we talk at cross purposes.
But communication isn’t just about conveying a message or an instruction, we also need to be able to negotiate, persuade and lead people. We have to build and maintain relationships.
Face to face communications can resolve many issues on our projects, whether it’s resolving a dispute, or even winning a project.
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