My wife and I typically wait until after we discover a colossal communication fissure for a review of the what-we-shoulda-dones. However, we recently blundered into creating something that just might save our sanity: preventative communication.
On her list for me to build in my woodworking shop is bedroom furniture. She finds a picture in a catalog, makes alterations with a Sharpie, and then I set about creating wood shavings. My plans are in a dangerous place- my head- so no detailed drawings exist beyond the catalog picture.
I constructed the oak headboard and footboard solid enough for a John Deere tractor. She came to my shop to compliment my progress and to bring warm cookies and milk. I will do a lot for warm cookies and milk.
I sketched out for her what the side drawers under the bed were going to look like: three sets on each side, two deep, for a total of twelve drawers for both sides. She had envisioned only two drawers per side for a total of four. As usual, I was making life three times more difficult than it should. Here’s our new strategy:
- Review before committing – Carpenters say, “Measure twice, cut once.” We had visited previously about the drawers, but we were never on the same page.
- Ask rather than assume– The power of a question can not be underestimated. By asking one more time, “Is this what you had in mind?” saved the project.
- Expect you are not communicating clearly – A favorite story illustrates this: The Mother noticed her children were playing with something and, upon discovering it was a litter of baby skunks, shrieked in horror, “Run!” Her kids scattered like a covey of quail, each one holding a baby skunk.
What preventative communication tricks have you used to avoid catastrophe?