Beyond the Build


Listening With Both Ears

Over the last few weeks, we have been working on the initial stages of a project that will land somewhere between $40 and $70 million, with a 2017 delivery. A really nice, interesting project.

Recently when I was meeting with our customer about the project, I asked about two consultants who I thought would be a part of it. The customer responded by saying they were no longer involved. Evidently they were too busy pushing their own vision of the project to listen to the customer’s thoughts. It didn’t sit too well, I’d say.

To me, the subtlety in our listening will go along way toward success.

Think of some one in the design field. Are they allowing their design to emerge from the client’s words and goals? Through this process, are they both a mirror and a filter? This is the high road, and the goal. The antithesis is the imposed design, where the designer doesn’t quite listen and a predetermined style or look is pushed upon the client. At times, the latter is fairly common.

Listening is a skill we all need to practice. I believe I’ve become a better listener over the years, but started out thinking I knew a lot. These days, when I speak with young managers and sense they are not listening, I look at them and ask them to listen with both ears. It might just save some stress and lead to more unified successes. In the end, it’s better for our customer, as well.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.