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Bricks and the City – Don’t be an Ass!

Bricks and the City – Don’t be an Ass!

First of all, I’m not calling you names, honest! The Ass in the title is linked to the word Assumptions.

Unlike a lot of other industries, for the majority of new projects we get involved in there is a new team. A new ‘cast of characters’ coming together to build something new or refurbish existing or whatever it is the scope of work entails.

Before we even meet each other we can make assumptions and a lot of this goes back to the boxes we have been put in and how we may have been conditioned to think. First of all, take the Client for example. We are working towards a common goal to deliver the project for the Client but how often do we make the assumption that we can’t say what he/she doesn’t want to hear for fear of upsetting them and not being given future projects? This, I feel is particularly prevalent in the current economic climate where there is a lot of competition and firms are focused on maintaining Client relationships to get repeat business.

We then have the assumptions we make about each other in the industry. Client Quantity Surveyors shouldn’t trust a Contractor’s Quantity Surveyor for fear they may fleece you. Better keep an eye on the Contractor in case he pulls a fast one and cuts some corners with the specification. Structural Engineers over design everything and PM’s are purely there to delegate and don’t like to role their sleeves up, Architects have expensive taste and can sometimes have a tendency to over specify. I know I’m being general but it is my perception that there can be a tendency to think in herds and to link certain behaviours with people’s roles rather then look at each person individually.

Having assumptions such as these can create a culture of mistrust before a project has even begun. As an industry I also think we can be influenced by other people’s experiences and let these cloud our perception of individuals based on other people’s judgement. How often have you had a conversation with someone and you may have mentioned that you’re about to work with a certain organisation or individual and a negative comment has come back? This may stay in the back of your mind when you meet the person for the first time, something which I have been guilty of myself.

Have you ever heard of the saying, ‘What the thinker thinks, the prover proves’? Whatever your belief is, you will look for proof to support it. This links with the Reticular Activating System (RAS)

At the base of the brain, where it connects with the spinal cord is a region called the Reticular Activating System. The RAS acts like a filter deciding which thoughts to focus on at any one time which is crucial given the millions of pieces of information subconsciously flowing through the brain. The RAS decides which messages will arrive at the brain and when it gets past the filter it can turn into conscious thought, emotions or both, essentially your RAS is the proof seeker.

So you may have been influenced by someone else’s opinion and then the RAS filters the proof to support it. Can you think of any occasions where this has happened? How different could team relationships be without making assumptions?

I heard this saying recently, ‘WHEN YOU ASSUME YOU MAKE AN ASS OUT OF U AND ME’

I’m going to try really hard in future not to be an ass!!