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How to Speak Electrical Engineer for Team Members and Colleagues
Staff Writer

Lost in Translation. It’s not just a movie; it’s a communication shortfall. And it isn’t isolated to communication between individuals or groups that speak different languages.  Actually, it’s a common problem that occurs in the professional world. Things to becoming lost in translation occurs between management, partners, and colleagues, especially when these parties are from different departments and have different backgrounds and training.

Most companies and workspaces employ people from a variety of backgrounds, some more artistic, and some more technical, some more outgoing and others that are more quiet in nature. When it comes to electrical engineers, employees may feel more alienated than usual because of the high exclusivity and focus of this field.

Electrical engineers have a very fine tuned job that requires a  well-honed skill set. Explaining what they are doing, trying to accomplish or issues they face may be difficult when the person involved in this dialogue doesn’t speak the same language (Engineer-speak). Now imagine an entire group of engineers trying to explain a product/process to a group of non-technical marketers. Rocky!  Don’t fret; there are ways to communicate with colleagues that will help team members work together, managers communicate their needs clearly, and workplaces work together more smoothly.

Translate Relationship Building Skills

No matter who you’re working with, chances are you are trying to relate to another human being. Even if you can’t talk easily about your different jobs, you can relate on a simply human levels. It’s import to sew the first seeds of a relationship early on. If you’ve ever worked with a company, in an office, or other professional setting, you’re sure to have experienced a team building exercise or two where you learned skills that will come in useful. Though they may seem tedious, icebreakers, cordial greetings and goodbyes, and generic questions can be the first step to forging lasting relationship and partnerships.

How to Relate to Your Electrical Engineer(s) in the Office

Listen Intently

Engaging with an engineer may be a little shaky at first. You don’t speak the same language, and they’re most likely to talk about their work, something they’re bound to be highly interested in. Don’t be discouraged. Instead of trying to talk up a storm, take this time to listen and learn. You may learn more about this rather complex subject, which gives them a way to relate. Besides, learning more about the inner electrical workings of your company isn’t a bad idea either.

Don’t Wait for Them to Come to You

For an engineer, time is important and rather revered. As they have time-consuming jobs, it makes sense that they will manage their time down to the last second. Due to this, you should not assume that an engineer will come to you just to chat or grab a coffee. This is not to say that they won’t do these things if asked (and if they can spare the time!), but it will be up to you to make the first move, plan, and set up meetings. Allow them space to make time for you so that their work is not disrupted, which will help them maximize their work and responsibilities while making the company much more productive. As a rule, plan chats, quick coffee runs, and other activities for moments of free time so not disrupt productivity in the workplace.

Always Find Common Ground

Common ground can be as simple as asking about the weather, what they think of the new snacks in the break room, about the pictures on their desk. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t engage initially. It may take a few attempts to find something that interests them and that they feel is worth discussing with you. Remember, time is precious and simple pleasantries are not going to be top priority for an engineer with a looking deadline. Figure out when they have down time, engage with them when they don’t seem too engrossed in their work. Once you do connect, be polite and ask about their work, their interests, their weekend. Find ways to relate that make them feel connected.

Offer Frequent Praise (And Mean It!)

Everyone needs to feel needed. Abraham Maslow introduced this theory in his hierarchy of needs.  Third only to physiological and safety needs, every person needs to feel loved and that they belong. This doesn’t mean you should give all your colleagues a hug, but frequent praises help people feel like they belong and are valued. Engineers have rather difficult jobs that are not widely understood, they are sometimes isolated and don’t receive the recognition that they should. So when you do give them praise, it may seem foreign to them and awkward. That shouldn’t stop you. Chances are, if you ask they will explain what they are working on and, if you truly understand the good work they have done, and feel that they deserve some recognition, don’t hesitate to offer it! Praise can even be as simple as thanking them for explaining a difficult concept or getting a job done quickly and efficiently. This helps build up work relations, friendships, and trust.

It isn’t about knowing the lingo or being fluent in engineer jargon. Instead, it’s about knowing how to relate on a human level, being friendly, and most of all, being intentional.

For the engineers - any issues communicating with your serial devices?  Maybe we can help - you can always reach us at sales@totalphase.com