While we’re still in the womb we are busy making plans for how best to communicate after we’re born.

The act of frowning, crying, or smiling contentedly are crucial to express a baby’s needs before they’ve developed the ability to use fully formed words.

And so it continues through life. Children learn the best ways to communication from their parents, and it’s been shown that a firm grasp of communication methods can translate into high levels of self-esteem. Important for children and their development, but also crucial to adults.

Feeling confident enough to stand up and present to a group of people, to manage a team, to convey feelings and emotions accurately – all these things rely on good communication.

There are times when speaking won’t do. If we can’t verbalise messages, then we use sign language. Think about divers, with a tried and tested number of signs to express to their buddy if they’re in trouble, and equally, if all is well.

Where there are no people to communicate instructions, we might rely on signage, recorded messages, specific literature, and even colour.
How else would we know about one-way streets; when to stop at the traffic lights, or where to go for the loo in a restaurant!

Despite the constant need for communication at every level, it’s a skill that needs to be learned, practised, and developed throughout our lives.

The way we communicate to different people is not always obvious. Maybe we have to learn a new language to converse with someone from another country, perhaps we can only use sign language to communicate with someone who has a hearing impairment.
Sometimes, it takes trial and error to find out what works with a certain person, or group.
While there are plenty of different ways of communicating, nailing the most effective method is the key.

Different businesses use very different communication methods, depending on the workforce and what they’re trying to deliver.
Think about a school teacher communicating to pupils. They’d use a very different method to a CEO putting out messages to company directors.

The way we communicate at work can reflect the way we learn to communicate in social situations. Think about factors such as organisational culture, size and location of the business. Are you in management conveying messages from the top down, or are you an employee wishing to convey a message to your boss? The way those messages are given are nuanced, depending on where you stand within a company.

Now we live in a digital world, communication becomes even more diverse.
Email, messaging systems, intranet-style digital communications, Zoom, Facetime, video-conferencing tools that we are now all-too familiar with in the times of Covid. All offer an alternative to face-to-face communication.

So while we’ve managed to figure out the frowning, smiling, laughing and crying that we practised as babies, as adults we really need to hone communication skills in a much more targeted way to achieve effective results.

Have a think about different formats of communication:
Written
Verbal
Visual
Participatory
Individual “key” communicators
Buddy systems
By identifying what you want to achieve, and thinking about the structures within your workplace, a robust communications system can be implemented.

Book a CDM2015 course with SID to learn your legal duties for construction project communication and collaboration. Review some of the challenges and discover more effective ways of sharing information essential for project success.