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Communication and Interpretation

An important area that creates major problems with any project, is the interpretation of communication between client and the builder. Like “Chinese Whispers”, information can follow from client to Builder, to site, and a conversation or direction that starts out one way, may turn out to be very different once it reaches the end of the line.

But there is a method to overcoming this issue and mitigating the risk, and it’s called -

Decode, Recode, Respond

How the transmission of information work? When someone (Client) wants to convey a message (Project Input), they select a method of delivery (Email, PDF, etc.), they then code the message (Put the message in their own words and terminology), then transmit the message to the receiver (Builder). The Receiver then decodes the message based on their own interpretation of the wording.

Normally this is where the process stops, but there is a key element missing and that is INTERPRETATION. As a Builder you may come from an trade background and your Client may come from a completely different background, and hence the meaning and interpretation of messages can vary dramatically between the two parties. This is how miscommunication happens. This is what people call ambiguous messaging.


When you receive and decode a message into your own interpretation, it is essential that you summarise your interpretation of the Project Input in your own words, and send that summary back to the Client for confirmation that you are all on the same page. You will be amazed at how many times this exposes issues that if left unresolved, could lead to major problems down the track.

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