It’s sometimes a wonder how we get anything done on a work site. In an industry like home improvement, we all speak very different languages. Architects talk differently than contractors (I still don’t understand fenestrations), while contractors do the same to architects (just the other day I got a funny look when saying I needed to butt-weld something). Then, throw the poor homeowner in the mix, and the conversation becomes a cacophony of clicks and hoots.
Needless to say, good communication is the key. It affects everything.
But the oddest facet about communication is that the most effective forms have nothing to do with talking — at least at the start. It’s about listening, and listening without trying to come up with solutions while the other person is talking.
When you really listen, the client feels heard. He or she also feels understood, which can go a long way to build a stronger connection between the two of you — not to mention the added bonus of creating an environment where all involved feel comfortable expressing ideas and opinions about the project at hand.
By taking on the role of the listener, it’s now up to you to understand the request. The onus is yours, which generally requires some reflection. Not that you need to go off and weigh what’s been said. It’s more about closing the loop at that time by asking questions and clarifying certain points.
You have no idea how many times my responses start with, “Sounds like you’re looking for…” or “What exactly do you mean when saying…?”
Remodeling is such a collaborative (and complex) process that it’s important for everyone to be on the same page. And if everyone is communicating effectively from the start, you’ll often find that:
- Communication remains effortless. It’s one thing to communicate all the wants and needs for a space during the design phase. It’s another story when hammers start to fly. As long as you’ve created an environment for open and honest communication, it won’t likely change.
- Moving from phase to phase becomes seamless. With larger jobs, designs can go through a series of revisions. When there’s any sort of miscommunication among parties, it becomes difficult to keep things straight, which can lead to delays and budgetary mistakes.
- Satisfaction is almost certainly guaranteed. Even with poor communication, you’ll eventually deliver on a homeowner’s vision for a space. But how you arrived there won’t be all that satisfying for the client. With good communication, you increase the chances of providing satisfaction throughout the remodeling process. The homeowner will likely turn to you for his or her next project.