Well, yes. And then, again, not really.
If you find yourself professionally intimidated by your STEM colleagues, stakeholders and clients, you are not alone. A lot of non-STEM, non- left-brain thinkers, get tongue-tied trying to communicate with these colleagues. And a lot of what you feel has to do with your prior experiences.
Now, full disclosure here. I am a STEM professional myself. 😉 Except that early on, my own professional journey took me into the new product development and market research arenas. Those assignments meant that I continuously communicated not only with my own, STEM peers. I also worked with lots of folks who were neither scientists nor design thinkers.
Then, I not only had to get these sales, marketing and business types to understand what the science and technology types were talking about. But also, I had to get them to “see” the implications of what these STEM professionals were proposing. Also, envision how their ideas played out for business growth.
My professional outcome from this assignment is the purpose for this blog and my speaking programs.
Let’s just say that your STEM colleagues are intimidating if you do not know what you are talking about. So, do you? Really?
First, your STEM colleagues are used to having the right answers. To just about everything. Because they have to. There is no “sort of,” “close to,” or “approximately” in their vocabulary. The stuff they design and implement has mission-critical implications to manufacturing, healthcare and transportation, for starters.
If you are a non-STEM professional, listen to the language you normally use to communicate with your non-STEM colleagues. You have some bad habits you need to break. Do your words make you sound “iffy” and “hesitant?” Then, chances are you have been on the receiving end of a STEM professional drilling down on the factual basis for your logic. The word “approximately” does not hold weight for your STEM colleagues. And if you use the word “exactly” well, then, just how “exactly” is “exactly?” Get the picture?
Your STEM colleagues are just waiting for you to throw around technical buzz words, thinking these terms “make you sound” like a STEM professional. So why continue to entertain them, instead of engage them?
Do you understand what you are talking about? Recently, I got a call from a vice president of a sales team . He wanted to know: ”How much technical terminology do my sales reps need to use to sound convincing, when speaking to technical decision makers?” My response: “Zero, zilch, nada. Unless, of course, your reps actually understand what you are spieling about. I always recommend avoiding trying to sound like someone you are not.”
Getting called out by STEM professionals on your level of technical and engineering knowledge can, and is, extremely intimidating. It really is OK to not know. And to ask for their help in learning what they do.
The key to professional success is learning how to communicate with stakeholders across the organization. Include the STEM colleagues which may, initially, intimidate you. They are the key to linking employee experience and stakeholder success to your human capital strategy.
And, hey, don’t feel so singled-out. Validation is how STEM professionals double- and triple-check each other out, too. Otherwise, satellites miss their orbital trajectories and the wrong products get shipped to the wrong locations.
My professional purpose is to move you one millimeter beyond your intimidation so everyone can better catalyze business growth. Your key? Learn how to communicate and collaborate with the STEM colleagues and left brain thinkers in your organization. They are not as intimidating as you think!
Planning your next team, corporate or association meeting? Searching for a one-on-one catalyst to get you unstuck? Engage me to present a One Millimeter Mindset ™ program! Delivered virtually or in-person. Contact me here.
Babette Ten Haken | Change Catalyst | Purpose-Driven Professional Innovation | Cross-Functional Team Leadership | Trust-Based Client Retention | In Person & Virtual Speaker, Consultant, Coach, Author |
Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™ Speaking & Consulting, leverages Voice of the Customer to translate the value of change and catalyze professional innovation and cross-functional leadership across professional disciplines. Babette is a cross-functional business-oriented STEM professional, qualitative Voice of the Customer facilitator, and Six Sigma Green Belt (Quality). She is a member of the ASQ, SHRM, PMI, the National Speakers Association and holds degrees from Washington University MO and University College London UK. Her playbook of cross-functional collaboration, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact Babette here. Image source: Adobe Stock.