How to be convincing

How to be convincing

It seems like I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince others of my ideas. Or sometimes it’s my boss’s idea that I’m trying to get across to another department. One interesting thing I’ve found is that people are especially critical if your idea steps on their specialty. I’ll give you an example.

A lot of folks where I work have pretty good machining experience. They’re very familiar with various finishes and also with welding specifications. If you’re presenting a machined part with some welds and a finish call out they will quiz you non stop on why you chose that¬†material and that¬†finish over any other. But they are a lot less familiar with various electric or electro-mechanical processes. In my mind the finish I chose for a machined part is just as obvious as what kind of shielding and sleeves I’m using to protect the wiring harness. But in general I’ll face less questions on this.

It’s really important to have people who will be questioning your design at every step. That’s what vets a good design. I have noticed, however, that some amount of overconfidence is often required and will often get something through when maybe it shouldn’t. Or, like I mention above, if the technical details are unfamiliar to those who need to approve the design they won’t know what questions to ask and will often go ahead and approve rather than come off ignorant.

I know if I’m preparing to get my design through a review I do a much better job if I’m worried about what questions they’ll ask. If I think I’m going to get a bunch of rubber stamps there’s probably some amount of research and background that I wouldn’t otherwise put in the effort for. So next time you’re on the review for a design and the person seems really confident or it’s not your specialty, don’t be afraid to ask them questions and make them prove to you they know the answers.

2 comments

This is sort of the flip side of what I was discussing in my post. I have a pretty hard time anticipating what questions people will ask if they’re way outside of my field, usually because those questions stem from lack of understanding.

On the other hand, I completely agree…asking questions is good and makes you think out where you’re going with things.

A good article. Well stated. It’s always a good idea to ask what questions could be asked and then figure out the answers.

My worst such experience was in pitching a new chemical plant to the Executive Committee. The Vice President responsible for the company hospital asked what effect the project would have on the hospital.

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