The Importance of Communication Skills for Engineers
Have you ever heard of the term, ‘awkward engineer?’
I’m sure you have.
And ‘awkward engineer’ is a common phrase because you guessed it… many engineers are awkward.
Why is it that this label is a worldwide phenomenon?
Why is it that a certain profession displays so much of the same personality qualities?
The term awkward engineer may seem funny to an outsider, but for the engineer? It is very painful.
‘How do you know?’
Because I am speaking from experience.
I got my undergrad degree in Electrical engineering, Masters Degree in Systems engineering & worked in multiple engineering industries for 5+ years.
And not only was I awkward myself, but also noticed many others in my field have the same sad fate.
They knew the technical knowledge like the back of their palms.
But when it came to dealing with people?
Today, I am going to cover the importance of communications skills for engineers.
This article can be applicable to accountants, nerds, and any other overly technical job.
Whether you want to admit it or not, we live in a people world.
Now it’s time to understand what we need to do about it.
Why Do Engineers Lack Communication Skills?
The reason that engineers lack communication skills is because they are taught to predominantly focus on the left brain aka the logical brain.
And can you blame them?
That’s how they were taught for YEARS & YEARS in school.
It is programmed into their subconscious mind.
During my time in undergrad, I had a lot of classes in calculus, electrical systems, differential equations etc.
But the number of classes I had in learning to communicate with people? Zero.
Therefore, myself & many other engineers began to process the world from a very logical lens.
We saw the world as black and white.
But here’s the problem.
Humans are gray creatures.
‘What does that mean?’
That means they are emotional to the core.
Humans are not logical. And when you expect them to be logical, you get irritation.
So an engineer traditionally speaks from a logical manner to an emotional being.
Do you know what that results to?
But to make matters worse, others not only find the engineer socially awkward, but often rude as well!
This is because the engineer has a very blunt delivery style.
You have heard: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
Well, the engineer is great at saying the ‘what.’
But for the ‘how’, not so much.
The Dangers of Poor Communication Skills with Engineers
I remember in my first ever job, I worked my ass off.
My team was working on a device that was going to help airplane pilots navigate their planes with more ease.
I learned this device inside & out. You could ask me ANY questions on it & I could answer!
But there was something wrong.
I froze up when I had to explain the device to OTHER people.
I had the tendency to speak in technical jargon & machine language.
When explaining the device to the Project Manager, she would look at me like I had 3 heads.
‘Speak in English please Arman’ she would say after I wrapped up.
My inability to communicate my ideas in a way where the Project Manager could comprehend was hurting my ability to progress in the field.
‘Dang, that sucks.’
Want to know what was worse?
The charismatic kid who had a VAGUE understanding of the device soon began to take the spotlight.
His name was John B’rot & this kid had a charm to him.
‘Did he have any technical knowledge?’
But that didn’t matter.
He was able to get the answers out of me with strategic questions & was able to communicate it harmoniously with the rest of the staff.
Even though I was working my ass off, this kid was getting all the credit.
The Benefits of Communication Skills for Engineers
After the pain of getting outclassed by someone who barely had ANY understanding of engineering, I decided to do something about it.
I began to take my communication skills much more seriously.
Went out of my way to spark small talk with co-workers, raised my hand to give more presentations & hung out with people in lunch rather than sitting in my cube.
Over time, I began to iron out the kinks in my social arsenal.
The overly technical words began to melt away & I began to communicate my ideas more effectively!
As my communication skills improved, my recognition did as well.
The same project manager who insulted me earlier began to start laughing at my jokes.
Jokes? Whoever knew I could tell jokes!
The technical knowledge mixed with communication skills transcended me in the engineering department.
Does that sound like someone you know?
Someone who has the communication skills AND technical chops?
I’m sure it does.
What Separates a Boss from a Worker
Did you ever notice the managers in an engineering firm?
What do they have?
If you look closely, they have the ability to communicate.
But how do you think they got there?
They began off as engineers just like you.
But the difference was that in order to work up, they realized that mastering the ability to connect was a MUST.
That’s the problem with many engineers nowadays.
They sort of just sit in the cube & think coding all day should give them a pay raise.
Nah fam. That’s not how it works.
EVERYTHING you are doing is dealing with people in one way or another.
Who do you think you’re designing the code for?
An end consumer. Aka: a human.
The managers who moved up in the field were able to see that.
That’s why they expanded past their technical knowledge & began to invest in their communication skills.
Nowadays, look at them.
They may not know the technical world as well as the engineer. But they know how to EXTRACT the right information.
And with that information, they play chess!
They move the correct pieces & makes sure that the business is running smoothly & the job is getting done.
Where do you go from here?
Hopefully, this article allowed you to see the importance of communication skills for engineers.
It’s one thing to be able to communicate with a machine. They don’t argue back.
But it’s a different case to be able to communicate with a human. They can argue back.
There will come a time where you will realize that communication skills are not just something cool to have, but rather, they are a MUST.
Be ahead of the curve.
While many other engineers are simply investing every ounce of resources onto the technical side, be different.
Invest in your people skills as well.
The school system & undergrad never taught us this stuff.
Therefore, it is our duty to be able to teach ourselves.
If you are an engineer who struggles with communication skills & have no clue where to begin, then I’d like to help.
I spent years as an awkward engineer & dedicated the past few years of my life engineering my way out of it.
Which is why I’d like to help you design a personal blueprint for social success.
Apply here for a free strategy call, where we will discuss where you are, where you want to be & what you can do to get there!
Learn the keys & separate yourself from the herd.