The Time Spent on Clear Communication is Worth Every Second

So, if it’s Worth It…Why is it Not Done?

You probably guessed it already; this week’s topic is COMMUNICATION and the all-too-common lack of it. Because poor communication is such a big issue, I’ve written about it a lot.

In a production meeting with a customer yesterday I was once again reminded of the importance of clear communication and…the lack of it. The conversation revolved around how the subcontractors were doing.

The customers were very happy with their work and pleased with the effort to put plastic over door openings and to cover furniture in the work area. But she said, “We’ve never had an interior construction project done before.

I wish I had known how much dust was created, and I would have covered some additional things.”

Keep in mind that after forty plus years of doing construction, I knew that this was a very clean job site. The point is this…she didn’t know what to expect, and I should have let her know.

I should have communicated better.

Let’s look at reasons, results, and remedies for…

  • Misunderstandings due to poor or no communication
  • Being blindsided by cost overruns or hidden costs
  • Completed projects not being what you wanted or expected
  • Not understanding construction terminology

What is communication?

According to the Britannica Dictionary, communication is:

            “…the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else”

We all have our own perceptions and understanding of words, phrases, and gestures. I presume I know what you mean, and you do the same thing. This happens with spouses, family, close friends, and people we know well. If it happens in these relationships, it only makes sense that it will be more common with strangers.

Reasons people don’t communicate:

  • Takes time – People now expect things instantaneously. We have high speed internet at the tips of our fingers. Photos are developed the moment they’re taken and can be printed instantly via a wireless connection to a printer. We don’t have time to prepare or read through a multi-page document explaining a construction project.
  • Overwhelming – Reading through pages and pages of descriptions and explanations of construction legalese is a daunting task. As a customer, I probably won’t understand half of it. It’ll be easier to just go ahead and start. We’ll figure out the details as we go. I know what I want and I’m sure the contractor does too…NOT!
  • Lost skill – Communication is a two-way process. It requires both giving and receiving, speaking and hearing, writing and reading, expressing and understanding. If we don’t know how to use these skills, we can’t communicate effectively. Good communication requires more than emojis and hashtags.
  • Don’t like conflict – Most people don’t like conflict, but it can be positive. Conflict is always difficult but can lead to growth and change. It indicates commitment and can lead to better outcomes. It allows us to see the other side’s position. We should be willing to discuss disagreements without our feelings being hurt.

Results of poor communication:

  • Project wasn’t what you expected – You have a vision of how your finished project is going to look. You can see it in your mind. When you come home one evening, excited to see what has been done and then…it doesn’t look anything like the picture in your mind. What happened?
  • Cost overruns – You’ve saved and/or borrowed the money you think you’ll need to do the upcoming construction project. You get an estimate of what it’s going to cost. Sure, it’s more than you expected, but that’s alright; it will be worth it in the end, right. Then you get the final bill, and it’s a lot more than expected. Now what? Where are you going to find the additional money?
  • Time overruns – The contractor says, “Your project will be done in no time.” “This won’t take too long.” “We’ll be finished by the end of the month.” “This project will only take a few weeks.” This sounds great, but how long is too long, by the end of which month, how many weeks is a few? Trust me, your contractor’s definition of time idea is most likely different than yours.
  • Not knowing what’s going on – As you’re talking with your contractor, he’s telling you how this thingamajig is going to support that doohickey. We use the newest and best gadget to build our gizmos. All the while you are nodding your head as if you know exactly what he’s talking about. When, in reality, you have no clue. Wouldn’t it be worth it to ask some questions?

Poor communication can be solved with time and effort.

Trust me, clear communication is worth every second spent so just do it.

Updated post from 9/23/19