Relying on techno jargon to differentiate yourself in meetings? With peers or with clients, especially with the “uninitiated”…meaning Owners or non-technical folks?
Seriously, what if no one in the room understands what you are saying, except the other engineer? Do you sit there, giving each other sideways, knowing looks? Rolling your eyes? Becoming impatient with the other folks in the room because they don’t “get it”? I mean, Is techno speak the same as knowing the “secret handshake”?
Get over yourselves. If anyone’s read The Grand Challenges to Engineering of the 21st Century lately, these projects are for the benefit of the greater good of society. Not a closed engineering community. And the last time I checked, society doesn’t operate in a vacuum. There is a diversity of opinion and perspective. Depending on where everyone sits around the table, they see the same thing differently.
How can you honor societal needs and perspectives if you are waiting for everyone to get an engineering degree so they can “get you?” Because everyone else around the table interprets techno speak as “another language.” And they are waiting for simultaneous translation so they can understand, appreciate, respect and communicate. They are waiting for that simultaneous translation from you.
Are you up to this challenge? Perhaps this is the 15th grand challenge to engineering in the 21st century.
You know, if folks actually understand what you are talking about, there may be some great discussion that can take a project in a direction no one was anticipating. You actually might learn something. And so might the other folks around the table.
So why retreat and circle the wagons by relying on communication via techno speak? If you feel you are differentiating yourself, you just may be isolating yourself as being hard to communicate with and not necessarily being a team player. Perhaps you are interpreted as being exclusive or elitist. I am quite sure these results are not what you intend and are certainly not your career goal!
And if you’ve come out of engineering school and are really uncomfortable speaking to non-technical types, well, learn how to do this! Clue card: joining a softball league, playing golf, engaging in anything recreational allows you to come up with SIMPLE, non-technical responses to the question: “So, what do you do?”And then apply this spirit of getting your point across to the next meeting you are in, where you have to explain an engineering concept to, let’s say, those sales guys. And what if those sales guys just happened to be from, say, Mars and didn’t speak your language anyway? Wouldn’t you go through some linguistic gymnastics to get your point across? And you’d be patient, as well.
I mean, haven’t you wondered sometimes if the sales guys DID come from another planet? I’m sure they’ve asked themselves that question about the technical folks.
Just don’t create barriers to communication because you think those folks are not as smart as you, and therefore not worth your time. I don’t think so. In the long run, everyone has something to teach the other person. And what that is may become a critical design element. So don’t short change yourself.
What good is using techo speak when you only end up talking to yourself?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.