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Effective Interpersonal and Team Communication Skills for Engineers

ISBN: 978-1-118-31709-9
168 pages
March 2013, Wiley-IEEE Press
Effective Interpersonal and Team Communication Skills for Engineers (1118317092) cover image

Presents key principles of communication that support clear exchanges in a technical context and help engineers learn effective communication skills

Effective communication is a necessity for engineers. Even minor on-the-job misunderstandings can cost time, money, or worse. Yet even though recent studies show that improved communication makes for better engineers, the ability to speak clearly and listen carefully have historically been considered "soft skills" and are not typically or explicitly addressed in engineering programs.

Working from basic units called microskills, Effective Interpersonal and Team Communication Skills for Engineers shows readers, one step at a time, how to engage, listen, manage conflict, and influence others with highly constructive, repeatable communication exchanges.

This career-enhancing handbook:

  • Presents communication skills for both technical issues and social situations in an engineering context
  • Breaks skills down to elemental usage forms as microskills
  • Includes plenty of practice exercises, case studies, and self-assessment tools
  • Helps develop higher-level skills for more complex situations, such as dealing with confrontation and conflict negotiation
  • Features a direct, user-friendly, practice-oriented format

Effective Interpersonal and Team Communication Skills for Engineers is a must-have guide for professionals and an important supplement for engineering programs at all levels.

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PREFACE xiii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xxi

SECTION I LEARNING THE BASICS 1

1 LEARNING TO DRIVE YOUR COMMUNICATIONS 3

Communication Microskills Model 4

Why are Microskills Important as a Basis for Communication in Engineering? 4

How Do MicroskillsWork? 6

How will I Learn the Microskills? 7

What’s in it for Me? 7

Why this Works 7

The Importance of a Practice-Based Model 8

2 WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN EFFECTIVE ENGINEERING COMMUNICATOR? 11

Shared Basis of Engineering Communication Exchanges Defined 13

Space, Face, and Place Spectrum Defined 15

Contextual Integration of Shared Communication Spaces 15

Check In 16

3 YOUR NATURAL STYLE OF COMMUNICATION 17

What are the Strengths of Your Natural Style? 17

Natural Style of Communication Defined 18

Contextual Integration of Your Natural Style 20

4 HOW SELF-UNDERSTANDING LEADS TO DEVELOPMENT OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 23

Self-Understanding Microskills Defined 25

Self-Awareness 25

Self-Regulation 25

Self-Motivation 25

Empathy 26

Social Attention and Focus 26

Contextual Integration of Self-Understanding 26

5 DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 29

Emotional Intelligence Defined 31

Check In 33

Contextual Integration of Emotional Intelligence 34

6 AFFECT CHANGES YOUR COMMUNICATION 35

Affect Defined 38

Affect Defined in Everyday Language 39

Check In 39

Contextual Integration of Affect 40

7 AFFECT PROCESSING: THE HIDDEN KEY TO CLEAR COMMUNICATION 41

Internal Affect Processing Defined 42

External Affect Processing Defined 42

Balanced Affect Processing Defined 43

Affect Processing in Overdriven, Disconnected, and Clear Ranges 44

Overdriven Affect Response 44

Overdriven Affect Processing Defined 44

Overdriven Affect Processing Analogy 44

Overdriven Affect Processing Impacts on Engineering Communication 45

Disconnected Affect Response 45

Disconnected Affect Response Defined 46

Disconnected Affect Processing Analogy 46

Disconnected Affect Processing Impacts on Engineering Communications 46

Clear Affective Response 47

Clear Affective Response Defined 47

Clear Affective Response Analogy 47

Clear Affective Response Impacts on Engineering Communication 48

Contextual Integration of Affect Processing 49

SECTION II TAKING IT TO WORK 51

8 I, YOU, AND THE TEAM 53

"I" Statements Defined 54

Check In 55

Contextual Integration of "I" Statements 55

Opaque "I" Statements: An Example 56

Opaque "I" Statements Defined 56

Contextual Integration of Opaque "I" Statements 56

Misplaced "You" Statements: Examples 57

Misplaced "You" Statements Defined 57

Contextual Integration of Misplaced "you" Statements 57

Misplaced Team Statements 58

Misplaced "Team" Statements Defined 58

Contextual Integration of Misplaced "Team" Statements 58

You and We Complete the Exchange 59

Appropriate "You" Statements Defined 59

Good Communication: "We" Statements—Examples 60

Appropriate "We" Statements Defined 60

Check In 61

9 PAYING ATTENTION WITH ATTENDING BEHAVIORS 63

Verbal Communication Defined 65

Nonverbal Communication Defined 66

Nonverbal Attending Behavior for the Speaker: Soler 67

Nonverbal Attending Behavior for the Listener: Recap 68

Check In 69

Contextual Integration of Attending Behaviors 71

Check In 72

10 SHAPE YOUR COMMUNICATIONS USING OPEN AND CLOSED QUESTIONS 73

Open and Closed Questions Defined 74

Check In 75

Contextual Integration of Open and Closed Questions 76

Check In 77

11 MOVE INTO MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS WITH MULTIMODAL ATTENDING 79

Multimodal Attending Defined 81

Sensory Processing Defined 82

Affective Processing Defined 82

Cognitive Processing Defined 82

Check In 83

Contextual Integration of Multimodal Attending 84

SECTION III MAKING IT REAL 87

12 DEVELOP FLUENCY WITH ENCOURAGING, PARAPHRASING, AND SUMMARIZING 89

Encouraging Defined 90

Paraphrasing Defined 90

Summarizing Defined 91

Encouragers to Use 93

Nonverbal 93

Verbal 93

Paraphrasing Skills to Use 93

Summarizing Skills to Use 93

Adding Affect to Encouragers, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing 94

13 CLOSE THE LOOP WITH REFLECTION OF FEELING 97

Reflection of Feeling in the Dialog between Lisa and Nestor 98

What Happens when Feelings are not Reflected 98

Tracking Reflection of Feeling 99

Benefits of Tracking Reflection of Feeling 99

Feedback Loops that Balance Feeling and Thinking: Accurate Reflection of Feeling 100

14 THE SIX-STEP CYCLE 105

Six-Step Cycle for Interpersonal and Technical Communications 107

Engineering Project Scenario Revisited 109

Step One: Identify Context 109

Step Two: Define the Problem 109

Step Three: Define the Goals 109

Step Four: Generate Alternates 110

Step Five: Take Action 111

Step Six: Iterate 111

Check In 112

SECTION IV TAKING THE LEAD 113

15 WORKING WITH CONFRONTATION AND CONFLICT NEGOTIATION 115

Confrontation 115

How to Clear Obstacles Using Conflict Negotiation 121

Conflict Negotiation Rules 124

16 BECOMING AN INTENTIONAL ENGINEER 135

BIBLIOGRAPHY 139

INDEX 141

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CLIFFORD A. WHITCOMB, PhD, CSEP, is Professor and Chair of the Systems Engineering Department at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He has over thirty years' leadership experience in teaching, research, and implementation of system engineering and product development for government and industry. His current research involves the development and assessment of executable architectures for combatant ship, unmanned vehicle, and information technology systems and systems of systems.

LESLIE E. WHITCOMB, MSc, is an educator and facilitator with twenty-five years' experience in education and counseling. She has developed curricula for and implemented practice of multicultural microskills counseling and education practices in a diversity of settings.

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