Thursday, October 22, 2020
Effective Communication with Supervisors.
Hi Daniel, thanks for the subject and clarity of your questions.
My response for your consideration includes and goes beyond "Methods for clear and acceptable questions within the engineering workplace." And as such, it is not limited to engineers early in their career.
I am delighted to see you, early in your career, intuitively knowing that BEFORE you move onto an issue, you wish to know that those you speak with receive the intended question or statement efficiently and effectively.
So, my first comment is to ask you to never again use only one of these "E" words in a sentence.
Efficient X Effective = Productivity.
They, together, state what you are to do and how it will be done.
· Language in Thought and Action: Fifth Edition
S.I. Hayakawa (Author), Alan R. Hayakawa (Author)
What is meant by level of abstraction?
The amount of complexity by which a system is viewed or programmed. The higher the level, the less detail. The lower the level, the more detail. The highest level of abstraction is the entire system. ... See abstraction layer.
· Reflection 1 of 2
In my experiences within engineering firms in the US, Canada, Japan, Philippines, Seoul, Oporto, Budapest, and Mexico, given about 70% of engineers are introverts, if you wait for the department head, project manager, and other supervisors to initiate open-ended questions at project startup, that project has already begun losing time, budget, and will probably require re-work later in the schedule. It is because they are ignorant, i.e., "not knowing," due to antiquated university engineering curriculum as to "How to play nice with others."
Our students are told what to do and how to do it as to the technical tasks, but almost nothing instructional about what and how to cooperate, collaborate, and communicate with other people . . .here, and abroad.
· Reflection 2 of 2
At an international conference just south of Mexico City, Mexico, I participated in a few ways:
a. Presented a half-day seminar on " Quality Management by Design™."
b. A member of a working group of professionals discussing the implications of the then-emerging ISO9000 standard.
c. Attended an open session for all invited papers
It was during this open session where I learned to always be "Nice Always & Smile" to interpreters when the speaker presenting required their support during their presentation.
So, up comes a technical presenter who turned out to be from Germany, had been living in the Mexico City area for over 17 years, and asked for his speech to be translated into Mexican language. He delivered this request curtly and spoke to the interpreter harshly when doing this.
Anyway, about 15 minutes into his talk the entire audience of about 330 attendees from at least 14 countries spontaneously broke out into laughter. Once it died down, he completed his talk.
As I normally sit at the rear of the hall for 'early exits,' that was right in front of the interpreters. So, I asked one, "Why did the laughter break out?" She said that the speaker said, "You have to, at times, just rely on your gut instinct to make a decision."
What the interpreter said to all was "You have to, at times, just rely on your bowels instinct to make a decision."
 Strongly recommend you read this first, and then setup a chat-time with your colleagues to discuss its implications in project/task life at work.
Dear Heidi, thanks for reminding all of us about critical sociocultural language issues.
Perhaps the following might reassure you of what my notes were meant to highlight within the specific environment noted.
But first, a brief quiz.
For some years I was part of the Mexican Society of Quality, IMMECA.
Jose Gonzales, exec director, and his staff worked closely with me for their annual Quality Conferences held within Mexico. They have since disbanded.
I enjoyed the privilege of sharing what I could to folks who never once corrected colleagues by insisting they identify their proper name for their language or related speech. We, each and all, if we had yet to learn each other's name, would say "You know, the guy (or gal) from Chile, Spain, Manila, New York, etc., etc., etc."
Well, if you have a moment, some of the information I sent Daniel on related topics supports your reminder.
Now here Heidi you may have been academically "Right on" except for what I explained.
I was right there, in person, sitting where I could see, listen and understand this specific example why not first building a friendly relationship particularly across cultures may result in an undesired result.
Right after this incident, the group went to "Break" and this lesson was understood.
Billp.s. As I am aware of the time and effort you contribute to raise the knowledge of non-engineering subjects, please consider leading the formation of ASCE Sections doing small-group study and discussions on the above and related issues.
IMHO, providing clear straight talk based on education, training and development to another who may not yet studied the issue is neither a chastisement nor "Hayden's Rule!"
It is my attempt to share what I have learned . . .rarely from university. . . to "Raise the boats" within and throughout our profession.
Perhaps you are already doing or have plans to lead an initiative within ASCE Sections to plan, organize, and deliver specific foreign language continuing education sections. With all possible respect to our engineers, I think currently, as you so assertively note, we need to move these topics into our engineering portfolio.