NAfA"RNBERG, Germany Aca,!"Whether in a marriage, friendship or business partnership, communication can often be challenging. Spice in different languages, cultures, and rules and communication can really suffer.

To minimize these communication challenges, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District hosts an annual partnering conference with senior district leaders and representatives from German state and federal ministries, as well as local construction agencies.

In the past, said Col. John Kem, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District commander, these partnering conferences introduced new initiatives to U.S and German participants and provided a platform for discussing ongoing projects. However, for this yearAca,!a,,cs conference, held February 23 and 24 in NAfA1/4rnberg, organizers focused on addressing potential communication issues between U.S. and German counterparts to avoid misinterpretations and ensure lines of communication remained open and clear.

Aca,!A"Every year thereAca,!a,,cs an agenda that tries to look at known problem areas,Aca,!A? said Kem. Aca,!A"This year, weAca,!a,,cre going to try to focus on the problems in a positive way. Instead of looking at current issues, we decided to focus on how we can communicate better so when problems do arise, we can get to the solutions faster.Aca,!A?

The briefings, discussions and breakout sessions were all geared towards one thing: improving communication. In fact, for some German participants, this was the first time they communicated with their U.S. counterparts face to face.

Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm new in this field, in this job,Aca,!A? said Matthias Vollmar from the German Federal Ministry of Traffic, Construction and Urban Affairs. Aca,!A"But I think the conference is very good for both sides, the U.S. and the German, because they can come together and discuss the problems and challenges of construction projects.Aca,!A?

Some of those challenges include the differences in regulations and procedures between the U.S. and German governments. But the conference provided a platform for these topics to be discussed in detail.

Aca,!A"Communicating through translators did not hinder the frank, open discussions during presentations and breakout sessions, said Jakoba Schempp, a translator for the conference. Aca,!A"Both sides were eager to listen and be heard.Aca,!A?

Jason Price, a project manager with the Europe District, said, Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs like marriage counseling for the District and its partners. The whole conference is about improving the process of communication. We discuss what weAca,!a,,cre doing right and what needs to be tweaked. Then we have a whole year to work it out.Aca,!A?

Other presentations included Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, better known as LEED, management of funds, conception of the public-private partnership, communication best practices, and Building Information Modeling.

Aca,!A"This conference is very important,Aca,!A? said Yazemin BAfA1/4yAfA1/4kkilic, a program manager from NAfA1/4rnberg. Aca,!A"For me it is not just about the presentations. ItAca,!a,,cs about the contacts and meeting people I work with on projects. Having the opportunity to get to know them in this setting is so important in working out problems when they arise.Aca,!A?

Another unique approach to communicating more effectively added to this yearAca,!a,,cs agenda was a tour to the Documentation Centre Aca,!" Nazi Party Rally Grounds Museum. Nearly 130 U.S. and German participants took the opportunity to interact with each other in an informal environment while sharing the experience of stepping back in GermanyAca,!a,,cs history.

Aca,!A"The purpose of the tour is to have participants interact in a social setting,Aca,!A? said Kristopher Hurst, conference organizer and chief of the DistrictAca,!a,,cs project management branch. Aca,!A"The hope is by breaking the communication ice in a casual setting, when we have to communicate with each other professionally it will go much smoother. IsnAca,!a,,ct that the point of the conference'Aca,!A?

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16