A lesson in communication…

Communication.  It’s a necessity of life, right?  I mean we do it everyday.  We communicate with people at work, at home, online…but whether or not we do it effectively is subjective.

This weekend, I had a project to do in the our woodshop (aka our garage).  On a side note, my dream is to park my car in the garage.  We have a 3-car garage and yet no place for my car.  I can’t really complain too much (even though I just did) because my hubby builds things for us – for our home, for the girl oasis, for friends, etc.  Ok, so back to my project.

I was making a something for a dear friend…a simple box.  I’ve made stuff before but I always need supervision – basically because I’m afraid of cutting a limb off or something and my level of detail isn’t quite as good as my husbands.  Anyways, the hubby was guiding me, telling me what to do and how to do it. I’d like to think I did about 80% of the box while he did 20%…he might have a different perspective on that.   I also realized this was a good exercise in our marriage and how we communicate with each other.  It’s funny how over time you rely on the other person to assume what you’re thinking or expecting them to do.

Here are the lessons I learned…

  1. Practice.  Practice what you’re going to do before cutting anything.
  2. Good enough to one person isn’t good enough for someone else.
  3. You can’t always go by feeling, you need to see it too.
  4. Unless  you explicitly say it, then it’s an assumption.
First things first- the hubby was kind enough to pick up the wood we’d need this weekend for our box.  We made our design and decided how big our box would be- fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it this wasn’t our first box.  In order to cut the wood, we used both the radial arm saw and the table saw.  This is where I learned I’m more comfortable with the radial arm saw.  In my opinion, there is more risk in cutting off a limb or myself for that matter when using the table saw.
 (and I’m embarrassed to admit that I even saw this movie but this is what ran through my head)
I practiced before I turned on any saw and luckily I didn’t lose any limbs.  I once asked if the hubby if he saw that I was about to fall on the table saw, would he catch me.  He said no.  I’m pretty sure he would have caught me though.
Throughout the process the hubby was saying ‘it doesn’t need to be perfect, just good enough.’  The reason is the project was fairly simple and any flaws that I made could easily be covered up with other aspects, it’s a box.  This process actually taught me to ask ‘what does good enough mean to you?’  As I said this , I realized I say  ‘only needs to be good enough’ a lot at work with my developers (for those that don’t know I’m an IT Project Manager).  I also realized how frustrating that can be for the developers.  What’s good enough for one person doesn’t mean it’s good enough for another.  It’s all subjective and it’s different for each project.
While using the table saw I realized that I wasn’t quite following through. Meaning,  I was supposed to push the board through the saw all the way to the end of the table.  I wasn’t. When the hubby pointed it out, I said ‘I feel like I was following through!’ and his response was priceless…’Just because you feel it, doesn’t make it so. You need to see it!’  He was right.  Problem was, I wasn’t positioning myself to view the follow through.  By not following through, meant that I wasn’t cutting a straight piece. Luckily, I didn’t mess it up too bad.
Once we put all the pieces together, it was time to stain, the final step in the assembly process.  I felt proud for finishing the project. Even more proud that we did it together.  I knew it would take patience on both our parts.  What I didn’t expect were the lessons I learned how we don’t communicate as well as I thought. Several times during the process, the hubby would comment and say something along the lines, ‘I shouldn’t have to tell you what to do.’  But I think too often we make assumptions…especially those we’re closest too.  It’s been a while since I’ve made something in the woodshop so I was leaning on him quite a bit to tell me what to do.  He assumed I would know what to do.
Funny thing, at the end of our project, I told the hubby he doesn’t communicate as well as he thinks.  His response…”I wasn’t trying to communicate, I was trying to make you figure it out on your own.”  I said you never said that.  Sigh.  Well there’s another lesson.  There’s no such thing as over communicating…even with those who know us best.
p.s. I only got put in woodshop timeout twice for goofing off.  Safety first, folks.  Safety first.
Here’s a few photos of the process…

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