Posts Tagged 'Brain'

The myth of engineers as communicators

Earlier this week I had an unusual experience that has left its mark on me. I spent the day at a client’s office and was in a series of meetings that kept me on my toes as a communicator. That in itself is fairly normal, what struck me as unusual was the number of times I was told through the day that I needed to understand that I was communicating with “Engineers”. The way it was said and the number of times it was said had me wondering if I should be approaching the way I was communicating with them as though I was talking to someone from a different planet or a particularly special species of being.

I have worked with engineers, accountants, lawyers and many other professions yet it seems that it is engineers who often hold on to their role/ background as a badge of honour or an excuse, to explain why they communicate the way they do. What comes across is the message – “You’ll have to excuse us, we can’t help it as we are engineers and we can only communicate in this particular way” This sentence usually follows an engineer communicating in a way that is either incredibly direct or not being able to communicate at all.

Admittedly engineers are more likely to be left brain than right brain thinkers; with more emphasis on facts, logic , structure and reasoning. But is it really true that all engineers have no capacity to use the right side of their brain? That they have no emotional awareness of self and others that would bring about a different style of communication? That they can’t see that the way they communicate impacts their relationships?

Personally, I think the “Engineer” thing is a cop-out. Having worked with engineers who are open to looking at different styles of communicating, who are willing to build their awareness of their own style and how it helps or hinders their communication, I am convinced that engineers, just like people in other roles, can and want to communicate effectively.

So to all the engineers out there who use the “I’m an engineer” thing as a label and excuse, I ask you to be open to the opportunities you can create for yourself to strengthen working relationships through your communication. And to the many engineers who I know are great communicators I apologies for including you with your comrades who continue to believe that they can only communicate the way they currently do it.