Using “Unspoken” Communication Skills to Advance Your Construction Career

When we think of construction workers – builders, carpenters, electricians, masons, plumbers, and welders, just to name a few – we think of physical labor. We think of very specific skillsets. While each job requires a different skillset, one skill is necessary to succeed in any position: strong communication. As a construction worker, you probably already realize just how important verbal communication is to your job. However, do you realize how important the unspoken aspects of communication are? In today’s workforce – across all industries – both job-specific skills and soft skills are becoming increasingly important. So, don’t overlook communication skills; they’re essential. Here are three things that you need to do – or learn to do – to succeed in construction:  


Knowing how to read construction plans and blueprints is a critical skill that not all workers have – and this ability can give you a leg up on the competition. If you want to increase your value and advance your career, make it a priority to learn to read blueprints and construction plans.  There are numerous online resources – including websites, ebooks, courses, and YouTube videos, many of which are free – that can teach you. You may also want to investigate local courses at colleges and vocational schools. So, take the initiative; your employer will appreciate your enthusiasm – and may even pay for your training.


Yes, listening is a communication skill. There are two types of listeners: active listeners and passive listeners. Passive listening is listening to merely hear what is being said, while active listening is listening to truly understand what is being said. Which do you think is more important on the job site? Given the complicated instructions and directions that supervisors are bound to give you on a daily basis, it’s crucial to truly understand what is being said. Make an effort to actively listen, take notes if it helps and when it’s feasible – and don’t be afraid to ask questions if there’s something you don’t understand. It’s much smarter to ask for more information or a further explanation than it is to make a mistake that can put you, your colleagues, and others in danger.


You may be an expert contractor helping to build homes or schools or skyscrapers, but you still need to know how to write. You never know when you’ll need to communicate with a client, customer, or your boss in writing, so it’s essential that you know how to use words effectively. One or two incorrect or misplaced words – or even letters – can change your message entirely, as can poor or erroneously placed punctuation, so, if you’re not confident in your writing ability, consider taking a class, whether online or in person, to polish your skills. The way you write can speak volumes about you, and poor spelling or grammar can only reflect negatively on you.   You don’t need to be Shakespeare, but you do need to project professionalism. Hone your basic writing skills and you’ll stand out to your clients, your colleagues, and your supervisor – in all the right ways.

Ready to find your next construction job? You can get access Building Skills NY construction job and training opportunities by checking out our Job Seekers page.