Effective 7 Keys to Better Communication

PSMJ Resources, Inc.
Posted on: 10/14/19
Written by: PSMJ Resources, Inc.


Engineers and architects are constantly working on teams, dealing with clients, speaking in front of the public—and all of it requires effective communication skills. “

You can move your projects along quicker if you communicate with clarity,” says Anthony Fasano, P.E., founder of the Engineering Management Institute. “That can alleviate problems, concerns, and challenges down the road.” 

For example, you won’t be going over budget only to find out your team did a lot of extra work without getting paid.

Communicate Better
Project managers need to be exceedingly clear with their teams about expectations, which may require weekly meetings and subsequent, actionable steps.

“Everything has to be clear right off the bat,” explains Fasano, author of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career. “In the A/E world we live in, time is money. If you’re not clear in terms of dates of submissions, milestones, when things need to be finished, then if something’s late, it’s your fault.”

Try to incorporate the following strategies for improving all-around communication.

  1. Create a collaborative environment. Develop a way for people to connect and share information easily, and offer support through regular group and individual meetings.

  2. Get people excited. It’s important to underscore the value of an overall project. Plugging numbers into a system for a stormwater design can get tedious, but if an engineer knows the project will alleviate flooding for thousands of residents, the task becomes part of a greater purpose.

  3. Know how people prefer to communicate. You’re likely working with different generations. Find out who would rather use chat software than talk on the phone or in person.

  4. Listen. “We tend to cut people off a lot in our world because we’re so problem-solving driven,” says Fasano. “It’s important to allow space in a conversation. A couple seconds of silence. Make sure the other person is heard.”

  5. Get to the point. These days we tend to process information in short, quick messages. Stick to critical details when speaking with clients, then send extraneous information later.

  6. Have uncomfortable conversations. The best way to approach a tough topic is “to lay everything out on the table,” advises Fasano. Tell other people you value their opinions, and they’ll feel empowered to offer input instead of shutting down. Emphasize that you need to work together to be successful. Always be inclusive.

  7. Use the 80/20 rule. Also known as the Pareto Principle, this rule keeps folks from getting bogged down in the details. Simply put: 80 percent of your business revenue comes from 20 percent of your efforts, so focus on the 20 percent for less stress and more success.

In general, effective communication takes foresight and follow through. Says Fasano: “Find out what works, build frameworks, and be consistent about applying them. With anything you do, be consistent and strive to build better habits.”

TPSMJ Membershiphis article is featured in the October edition of the Professional Services  Management Journal (PSMJ) newsletter. PSMJ’s carefully-curated content ensures that you are not getting generic filler, hypothetical fluff, or anything but proven battle-tested advice. Check out a free copy available at the link below.

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