Construction is an action result industry filled with people wired for action working in a business model driven by a schedule, balanced with quality and budget.  A good share of the projects over budget are due to people taking action without focusing on the result they wish for versus the result they get by having to go back to go forward which affects the budget and time.

Does it bother you when you have to go back and forth for information to either schedule an appointment with multiple parties or arrive at a decision on a project agreeable to all parties to move forward?

How can you take ownership to improve the amount of back and forth communication in your world?  Three ways are to offer choices, offer solutions, and provide all of the necessary backup information to allow for an informed decision.

Let’s start with “offer choices”. 

When you are trying to coordinate a meeting between two or more parties, offer at least two options, and three is better.  Make sure the options are not just the same day unless the meeting must happen right away and try not to make the choices too specific.  Does Wednesday the 1st before noon, Friday the 3rdafter 1:00 p.m. or Monday the 6th anytime work for you to do a meeting?  This type of choice delivery in your communication allows the person a response of Friday 2:00 p.m. or anytime Monday works for me.  You can then send a confirmation easily, and scheduling will be complete.

When unsure of a location to meet offer at least two choices also.  Do you prefer to meet at your office or the Downtown Café?  The response will typically be one of your options or will lead them to be specific as to the location they want to meet. They can also answer in one word like dominant personalities do often.

Tight schedules among the parties fill up quickly, which makes the choices all that more important as you could go back and forth quite a few times otherwise finding a respective opening often due to the one slot that was open is quickly gone.

Offering solutions also prevents communication from going back and forth. 

If you offer a solution to a proposed design change, schedule conflict, budget overage etc. you are providing the other party with a platform to either agree to or comment on, so that the parties can arrive at the solution or answer without having to keep asking questions back and forth.  They can focus on the items that will get to mutual buy-in versus having to go through all the questions for a proposed solution.  Solutions also help people you are communicating with that are under very tight schedules, and may not readily know the solution.  We often assume it is because they are not qualified where it could be many underlying reasons including political reasons on their end, but it doesn’t matter.  What matters is getting the answers you need to do your job effectively.

Remember to always provide sufficient backup information. 

Why?  Remember in school when your teacher wanted to see the worksheet showing how you derived at the answer.  You might have thought it was to make sure you didn’t cheat. More often than not, the worksheet was to see your thought process and make sure that how you derived at the answer or solution would line up to the next lesson where you had to add another component. Obtaining solutions in business works much the same way especially for constructability and contracts. A proposed solution might work for the current problem, but the way you are targeting the solution could open a whole new set of problems or costs moving forward.  Providing back-up not only includes credibility but also provides a pathway through how the answer was derived where a step or piece can be easily tweaked versus the whole proposed solution scrapped putting you back at square one.

According to Guinness Book of World Records, the longest table tennis doubles marathon is 101 hours, 1 minute and 11 seconds by Lance, Phil, and Mark Warren and Bill Weir (all USA) at Sacramento, California on the 9-13 of April 1979.  General business and construction decisions can seem to go back and forth that long, although the result is not a prize, but a distressed project and severed relationships.  You can make the difference!  Offer choices, offer solutions and provide back-up information.  You will win respect and with the esteem that comes with success if you save the back and forth for ping pong, not email or communication.

To learn more about effective communications download or hardcopy order John Maxwell’s book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently.

Solutions for You,

Suzanne Breistol

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