on October 23rd, 2008

Perhaps a generalisation, but I believe as engineering professionals we tend to work independently, without much enthusiasm for communication - something regarded as the domain of politicians rather than of engineers or technician. It is, however, critical to our success. Charlene Tribelhorn, one of IDC's top instructors in this area, has contributed to my blog- her suggestions are summarized below.

Communication is vital to our success because the results of ineffective communication are extremely negative and include considerably high levels of stress, frustration and anger. Despite all the new methods of communication (fax/email/video), which should perhaps ease the burden of communicating, it is forgotten that the message intended for communication is not determined by the medium we use, but by the perception of the person we are communicating with. In fact, I believe we are communicating more ineffectually than ever before with email being resorted to for expediency sake. In many instances the message requires an actual meeting or, at the very least, a telephone call. Essential to ensure that there is clarity in the transmission of the message and to allow for frank and open discussion regarding the issues when necessary. Miscommunication can result in damaged workplace relationships and even impact negatively on productivity.

Consider the following when communicating:

 - How would you describe your ability as a communicator?
 - Do you communicate your ideas persuasively?
 - Do you know how to make your point with impact?
 - How well do you deal with challenging people?

Below are three suggestions for effective communications:


No matter who you are dealing with, you, as an engineering professional, need to hone your listening skills. It is extraordinarily frustrating being subjected to someone who doesn't listen.

The Power of Why

All of us, and especially engineering professionals, are striving to find the answer to the inevitable and far-reaching "Why?" question. People can't help it; it's in our nature. So when asked the "Why" question at work, answer it convincingly and comprehensively to eradicate the floating question marks. The results will include; the completion of tasks and colleagues working with reduced stress and frustration and more efficiently.

Congruence is critical

This is where you "walk the talk" of your message. This is crucial when you need to implement new management initiatives. Your colleagues will notice in seconds if your actions belie your message. Many engineering tasks are highly onerous with serious technical challenges and you have to demonstrate an enthusiasm for tackling them head-on - especially if you expect your colleagues to support you.

2. Thanks for all the tremendous support during our latest roadshow in the UK and Ireland. It has been great to meet everyone although the logistics of bumping through a myriad of cities in Wales, Scotland, England and Ireland has been a little daunting.

I am looking for further contributions for our Electrical Safety tips document which we want to release again towards the end of this year. Any suggested safety tips while working in the electrical environment will be gratefully received.

With all the fears about the world economy at present, as engineering professionals we must remember that we are in a truly noble profession where we make a real contribution to humanity. Never lose the faith.

Yours in engineering learning


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