Lost in Translation? How Jargon Can Derail Your Construction Project

Years ago, I launched my construction scheduling business with a naive mindset. “Just get the project done and hand it over,” I thought. However, what I quickly realized was the immense importance of communication in building strong client relationships and project success. Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned:

Context is King (and Queen):

Have you ever paid for a service that delivered a pile of data with no explanation? Unfortunately, this happens a lot in construction scheduling. In the beginning, I made this mistake myself. I can only imagine my client’s frustration: “Wow, Diane clearly put a lot of work into this, but how do I use this information?”

The takeaway? People pay for a service, not just data. Make sure what you deliver is helpful, actionable, and valuable. Bridge the gap between the data and its practical application.

Don’t Assume, Communicate:

On that first project, I made two bad assumptions:

  • Clients understood all the scheduling jargon.
  • They only needed a one-time deliverable, no follow-up.

The result? We parted ways after the project, never to hear from them again.

What I should have done:

  • Ensured clear and concise communication, tailored to their understanding.
  • Followed up after the project to see if they needed further assistance.

This is now standard practice for me with every client.

Speak the Normal Language:

Schedulers often fall into the trap of using jargon like “float,” “late dates,” and “critical path.” While normal to us, it can be a confusing puzzle for clients and construction teams. Combine that with a lack of context, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Here’s my secret weapon: I explain my work in the simplest terms possible, regardless of the listener’s background. It’s about translating complex information into something “human.” For me, the target audience might be my brother or husband. Who would it be for you?

By prioritizing communication, I’ve built stronger client relationships and delivered projects with real impact. Let’s all strive to bridge the communication gap and ensure our construction schedules empower, not confuse.