Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  Listening By Design

    Posted 06-25-2022 09:23 AM
    Q. When at work involved in a project, and you expressed your opinion or concern about
    what and how something was being done, when was the last time the person
    you were speaking with said as their first response:

    "That's an interesting point, can you tell me more?"

     

    Cheers,

    Bill

     



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    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
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  • 2.  RE: Listening By Design

    Posted 06-27-2022 10:38 AM

    These exact words are more scarce than they should be.  I think the last conversation of this sort was regarding abandoning the use of an old software.  The software was quick and provided good graphics.  However it is buggy and limited in its design capacity.  We determined that we would likely be better off creating our own templates and scripts.  People want to hear from experience, in this case, I have been using the software for over 15 years... so my opinion is valued.

    Know when your opinion is valued and wanted.  Unsolicited advice is not always well received.  But, you cannot expect others to dig deeper either.  I believe there is no harm in the unfiltered exchange of ideas, it can only spur further thought, whether it is focused or tangential.  "Tell me more" opens communication, whereas, "too much information" will stifle it.  "Tell me more" is best suited for verbal communication and can fall flat in email.  In a formal report it can become a liability. 



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    Chad Morrison P.E., F.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 3.  RE: Listening By Design

    Posted 06-28-2022 12:39 PM
    I think the corollary is equally important and one that an individual has control over. That is, when presented with a concept, solution, approach etc., to ask the presenter to tell them more. If done in a tactful or not off-putting manner, it can be a powerful tool for exposing issues and creating a robust dialog. From my experience - and probably due to human nature - many do not take this questioning well. There is a tendency to become defensive or annoyed. Being able to maintain one's composure when asked for more information and be genuinely interested, is an important skill if you want to go places.

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    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
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  • 4.  RE: Listening By Design

    Posted 06-30-2022 10:53 AM
    Thanks Chad, Mitchell,
    for your clear feedback.

    However, when you have a moment, consider answering the question:

    "when was the last time the person you were speaking with said as their first response:

    "That's an interesting point, can you tell me more?"

    As an FYI, to date when I have verbally asked other professionals, in practice and education, their first
    spontaneous response is a chuckle/laugh.

    My purpose for this question within this ASCE chat space is to identify still one more reason why
    conflicts grow within engineering project work, and profits dip below the goal.
    Cheers,
    Bill



    ------------------------------
    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
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  • 5.  RE: Listening By Design

    Posted 07-08-2022 01:16 PM
    Yes, I agree avoiding this question can create issues that undermine best business practices.  How can the question be brought to the table?  I think checking in from time to time is the best approach, surveys feel too forced.  What are you working on?  How's it going?  What problems are you encountering?  Problems and solutions are brought to light that can be solved easily through collaboration.  Complaints are generally not productive because they arise too late.

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    Chad Morrison P.E., F.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 6.  RE: Listening By Design

    Posted 07-05-2022 08:38 AM
    What an excellent question, Bill. Thanks for posting it.
    There's a new book, "I never thought of it that way," by Guzman, who describes a method for getting political enemies to actually discuss issues instead of throwing angry slogans at each other. She starts with a sort of attentive listening, as suggested by your question. "Tell me more" can be beneficial in work situations, too, particularly to draw out shy people who may be drowned out by us louder folks.

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    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
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  • 7.  RE: Listening By Design

    Posted 07-05-2022 10:17 AM
    Thanks for the pickup on this William, and the text reference.

    Imagine making that question a normal part for those doing project work!

    Q. "Say Harry, think you'll get the report out this Thursday?"

    A. "Of course Boss!"

    Q. "So then Harry, can you tell me more how that will happen?"

    Cheers,
    Bill

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    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
    ------------------------------