Effective communication skills are an essential component of every project in the construction industry. A project’s successful completion is dependent on how well each and every member of the team can effectively communicate with each stakeholder.
The construction industry presents a unique communication challenge as it is a project-based sector where each new project brings together a new group of team members to deliver the work. Given the size of the industry, some team members may have pre-existing relationships and established internal communication methods, but they will likely still need to build new relationships with new stakeholders they’ve never worked with before.
By developing a communication process prior to the start of a project, teams are able to communicate more effectively and collaboratively work towards a common goal.
Here are some simple but important steps to consider when building your next project’s communications process to ensure effective communication throughout any construction project.
With so many different stakeholders, efficient communication through email, construction plans, drawings or phone calls must be efficient. Efficient communication in our industry is the ability to deliver a message in a clear, timely and effective manner. Sticking to facts and asking open-ended questions will ensure that the key messages are conveyed to all stakeholders.
Empathy in effective communication is the ability to understand someone’s point of view. In construction, understanding that each stakeholder has unique opinions, approaches and perspectives is integral to the success of any project. Empathetic communication should be used to get a better understanding of how stakeholders or team members are feeling, particularly when there are obstacles that block progress. When teams and stakeholders understand each other, they feel more empowered to solve problems in collaborative and innovative ways.
Every team on a construction project has been hired for their expertise. Since each project brings together a new team, the members may not work in the same way as others have previously. keeping an open mind when teams or stakeholders are sharing ideas or concerns is fundamental to effective communication. Working in an environment free of judgment or unconstructive criticism fosters trust, and ensures that team members believe in each other's ability to complete the tasks assigned to them.
Researcher Albert Meharabian defined communication as roughly 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and 7% actual words spoken. Active listening is the ability to comprehend the message beyond the words.
When teams practice actively listening, they are creating a safe space where issues can be discussed effectively. Active listening exercises empathy and cognitive thinking, so you understand the issue from the other person’s perspective as well as your own. Some strategies to demonstrate active listening can include paraphrasing the messages they’ve provided to show understanding, short verbal affirmations (“I see,” “I know,” “I understand”), or simply nodding to show agreement or comprehension while a speaker is expressing a thought.
On construction projects, listening is the key to understanding each team’s needs and concerns. It increases productivity, creates a better workplace and culture and ultimately, is good for business.
Effective communication is the most important skill anyone can learn. It is the biggest factor in the success of any construction project. What will the future of communication look like with the introduction of AR/VR and robotics in the construction industry? Our research at Bespok has expanded to investigate and value the future of communication.