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Communication – A Worldwide Challenge for Projects

Feb 06, 2023  •  8 Minute Read
Tin can phone depicting sending and receiving communication

By Lucas Lugari Carneiro, International Project Manager

When things do not go according to plan, it is very common to hear the expression, “the project was a failure because of the lack of communication” or, “this component wasn’t in our scope and now we have extra costs.” Have you ever wondered why this happens? I bet you have! So, what usually is at the root of bad communication?

As many engineers will say, the answer is, “it depends.” There are a lot of variables that could result in poor communication, but before considering some of them, let’s understand a little more about communication itself.

The word “communication” comes from the Latin word “communicare,” which means, “to make common, to share, to exchange opinions.” The act of communication implies exchanging messages, which involves sending and receiving information.

We communicate through conversation, body language, telephone, gestures (tone of voice/facial expression), email, messages, and short talks; and, we rely on these forms of communication to build a relationship, negotiate deals, and to guide our vendors and customers.

Consistent and effective interactive communication is essential to the success of any project or work environment. The model for good interactive communication explains communication as a process consisting of two parties, the sender and receiver, and recognizes the need to ensure the message has been understood.

The sender is in charge of transmitting the message, ensuring the information is being delivered well and completely. But, just delivering the message does not guarantee the communication was effective—the sender also needs to confirm the message is correctly interpreted.

The receiver also plays a role in making sure the information is received in its entirety and interpreted correctly and answered appropriately, listening carefully and asking questions or requesting clarification if necessary.

Obstacles to Good Communication

Overall, the effectiveness of communication between the sender and the receiver will depend on the “noise” and other communication barriers.

There are different kinds of noise and barriers preventing effective communication from happening. “Noise” includes the distractions that get in the way of good communication, and the most common include the following:

  • Emotional: Communication can be affected by the emotional state of the sender and the receiver and can result in confusion, fear and mistrust if not managed properly. This is where emotional intelligence comes into play, and it is important to put your own assumptions aside and trust the intent of others to facilitate a clear exchange of information .
  • Physical: Remote work and social distancing in recent years have made communicating face-to-face more difficult, and that can be challenging as there is no replacement for “in person” communication. Fortunetly, with the advancement of new software and technology, communicating remotely with teams has become much easier and more “normal.”
  • Language: Global teams and parterships have the unique challenges of diverse languages and cultural differences. It is very important to adapt to varying work cultures, to be aware of time zone differences, and also to always make clarity the priority over using jargon and phrases that could be misinterpreted in other languages.
  • Listening: Hearing what others are saying is much more important than speaking. Always keep the communication line open. The most effective communication is two-way, and it is important to encourage teams to not only listen but also reciprocate with feedback. Be conversational!

In the model below, the message transmitted by the sender will be impacted by the sender’s current emotional state, knowledge, personality, culture, background, and language, among others. The same situation will happen with the receiver and those barriers and noises will influence how the message is received and interpreted. Whether you are the sender or the receiver, you can help ensure a better outcome by being mindful of the “noise”—it is important to understand your audience and their culture, and to keep your emotional state in a good place.

Model of two way communication

Eliminating Communication Barriers

We can all affirm that bad communication in projects can create major problems and can vary according to the situation of the sender, the receiver, the culture, geographic location, and even internet connection quality.

For all services CPS delivers, our mission is to be the best partner we can be. To prevent issues with communication in any given project, we prioritize clear communication with transparency and objectivity, and we have very tangible ways to do this.

One of our main deliverables with any project is the Process Flow Diagram, which depicts the complete scope of the project and identifies all process steps. To make sure the document is understood, we add detailed information about the equipment, including the Wenger quote number in the contract, plus we have weekly meetings with the customer (and, if necessary, also with the vendor). Everything is done to achieve customer satisfaction and to make sure they fully understand the process, as we design their extrusion factory with our Factory Layout Design service.

Another deliverable we offer is the Preliminary Utility Usage Analysis. In this document, we provide a detailed list of utilities such as water, saturated steam, compressed air, electrical, exhaust air, and gas. Every item is carefully listed to ensure there is no misunderstanding among customer, contractors and any other party involved.

Our objective is to communicate as effectively as possible with every deliverable. This way, it will mitigate the risk of being misunderstood so ultimately we keep our customers satisfied.

If you have questions for CPS or want to learn more about how our consulting services and resources can help you reach your goals, please reach out to our team.

Corporate Project Services, a division of Wenger Manufacturing, is a dynamic group of planning specialists backed by Wenger’s more than 80 years of process system supply to the industry. Our knowledge base and breadth of experience in extrusion processing and facilities construction is unsurpassed – and our commitment to excellence is recognized around the world.

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