Tag Archives: soft skills

A few years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of being in a courtroom with two lawyers.  As soon as the judge said that court was in session, both lawyers stood up and began talking simultaneously for several seconds.  Eventually, one of them ran out of steam, and I was left with the feeling that the other had ‘won’.  I’m not sure what they were going for other than some sort of weird attempt at dominance, and it was a very jarring display.  I thought, at the time, that I would never want to be a lawyer. Since then, I’ve been witness to similar things over and over.  However, instead of in a courtroom, these arguments involving a lot of confrontation and rude behavior, have taken place in front of white boards, on Skype sessions, on telephone calls, and even at bars.  And they always seem to involve engineers…sometimes even…

Read more

Given all the recent chit-chat about the humanities and “soft” skills, coupled with the fact that I’ll soon be moving into management myself, I thought it’d be a good time to discuss one very important specific soft skill in the workplace: Empathy. Do you care? Do you care about your fellow colleagues? Your boss? Your subordinates? A seasoned software manager writes in his blog, Stevey’s Blog Rants, that his number one tip for managers is empathy. Seems like a perfectly reasonable, perfectly human ability to possess, even for stereotypical introverted, socially-awkward engineers. According to a white paper by the Center for Creative Leadership, empathy has a direct correlation on job performance, although the strength of this correlation is culture dependent. North America and most European countries have a medium correlation between empathy and job performance while South American countries have a low correlation. Countries and locales in the Sinosphere —…

Read more

I got a call last week from the electrical engineering department on campus asking if I would teach a class this semester.  The class has the potential to be one of the most important classes that they will encounter in school. No, it’s not circuits 1.  It’s University Studies. You see, our university requires every freshman to take a class to orient them to living life at a university.  My sister went back to school when I started my master’s degree, and she complained to me over and over about how irrelevant the class is.  There was a section on, for instance, talking to your roommate about making living arrangements.  At this point, she’d moved out of my parents’ house and been living with someone for 12 years! The custom in electrical engineering has been to try to use this class for something better: what specifically do you need to…

Read more

3/3