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Interpersonal Communication for Engineering Leaders

Week 1

Layer of culture

  • inherited
  • learned
  • learned & inherited

long pole: the critical component of the project

Hofstede's cultural dimention

  • Power distance
  • individualism versus collectivism
  • masculinity versus femininity
  • Uncertainty avoidance index
  • long term orientation versus short term normative orientation
  • indulgence versus restraint

Videos and Articles

The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why

TODO: add note about the reading.

How Gender Influences Communication Styles, Habits, and Behaviors?

  • Man and women brain functions are overlap.

Personal Communication Improvement Plan

Area of competence to improve Actions to take
good attitudes hide all your negative emotion on people and things, be pleasant and friendly
nervous relax and show your passion on the topic
tone and intonation adding more tone and intonation variations into your speaking
affirmation speaking with affirmed tone

Week 2 Leadership Presence

  • Do you feel like a leader?
  • Do you look like a leader?
  • Do you act like a leader?
  • Do you talk like a leader?

Personal Brand

"A brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room"

"With more than 25 years experience as a communication professional, I offer excellent writing, editing and research skills to clients in the information technology industry."

"I help engineering students learn leadership skills so that they can leverage their creativity and technical skills to create a better world for all of us. My passion is teaching, my joy is seeing other successfully use what I help them learn."

"High energy motivational speaker and communication coach who loves the color red. I help business professionals learn how to come out of their shells so they can present themselves with confidence at business and social events and network their way to success."

Personal Presence

  • charisma
    • (old) Power, influence, big personality, forcefull presence
    • (new) calm, confidence
  • leadership presence
    • Look confident
    • communication clearly
  • 3 dimentions
    • How you act
    • How you communicate
    • How you look

Verbal Skill

  • Use active rather than passive
  • Hedge phrases
  • Reduce filler word
  • Use inclusive language

    leaders should talk to their teams.

  • use strong, active verbs

    The team analyzed the material.

  • Use specific words
  • Make your tone professional and enthusiastic
  • Voice quality
    • volume
    • talk slowly
    • use phrasing and inflection
    • Use pauses
    • vary your voice

Effective communication is about engagement

Videos and Articles

Hold Great Meetings

  • Your reputation for getting things done in meetings, of not wasting time, of gathering information, of facilitating strong group decisions, will carry over into your other activities and encounters with people.
  • One of the first thing you can do when you start a meeting is to set a positive and productive tone. Your own demeanor and attitude are likely to be reflected by the people attending.
  • Make sure you're pleasant and friendly even if today's agenda includes some difficult topics. Elon Musk has said that he leads by example, he brings his A-game to meetings, setting the standard for everyone to follow.
  • You should already know what the goals of the meeting are. And you should've already sent the agenda and any reading material to the participants, expect them to come prepared. And be ready to hold them accountable in a firm but friendly way for the information you have distributed.
  • In continuing to keep the tone of the meeting productive, make sure that everyone understands how each topic, each discussion and each decision fits into the big picture. For example, a decision may seem small, it may apply to a local team process but it's your job as a leader to connect that small decision to the overall goals of the organization and the needs of the business.

Yes, and...

  • Let's look at an example. Speaker one says, I think we can streamline our process if we combine our first two reviews into one and put it at the midpoint. Speaker two says no, that won't work. But I think we need that early review to help work out the bugs.
  • (Yes, and..) Speaker 1 says, I think we can streamline our process if we combine our first two reviews into one and put it at the midpoint. Speaker 2 says, yes, and we can put the extra time and effort into better planning up front so we have fewer bugs.

Make Sure Everyone Gets Heard

  • Be aware of your role as a leader.
  • Your demeanor and your attitude can contribute to a positive atmosphere.
  • Next, create some ground rules for how to handle hot spots, such as disagreements, controversial topics, aggressive interruptions and dominating speakers.
  • Make Sure Everyone Gets Heard

Ask Insightful Questions

Today's leaders

  • Ask insightfull questions
  • assimilate information
  • collaboration
  • make decisions
  • support the big pictures

Week 3 Difficult conversation

  • what you style of handling difficult conversation?
  • ask, what emotions make me think this way? Where do they come from? What is real, and what are my assumptions?

How to make a person feel safe?

  • avoid asking why question.
  • avoid use the work but, but using and.

Practicel tools

  • not responding to effort --> keep the dialogue open
  • stubbornness --> recognize their position and go back to goals
  • Develop informal interpersonal relationships
  • be consistent in your behavior
  • explain your motivations
  • be succint
  • communicate and over communicate


  • Receive
  • Understand
  • Evaluate
  • Remember
  • Responding

Levels of listening

  • Leve 3
    • Fake attention
    • tuning out the speaker
    • More interested in talking
  • Level 2
    • Hearing words, but missing intent
    • not looking at non-verbals
  • Level 1
    • Listening with understanding and respect

Videos and Articles

Week 4 Crisis Communication

  • What is a crisis?
  • How do you plan for crisis?
  • How to communicate effectively in a crisis?

Crisis Communication plan

  1. Identify worse-case scenario
  2. Identify your audiences and plan how to reach each audience
    • employees are your spokespeople

The key rule: communicate Early and Often

What if you don't have all the facts?

  • prepare a holding statement
  • establish regular media updates
  • communicate company values
  • avoid wating and "no comments"
  • tell then what you'll do

Holding statemenet:

  • this is what we know
  • this is what we care about
  • we are investigating
  • we will update you in an hour

living our value everyday:

  • We care about the pepole involved
  • We are committed to the full disclosure

And I think it's critical to point out today that if I don't understand what you are saying, I don't trust you. And if what you are saying is so technical and beyond my ability to understand, I'm not going to invest the time to figure it out. I just don't trust you. I don't like you. I don't believe you. So companies that take the time to help people understand how to make communication inclusive so that people can instantly understand what you are saying, I think is the secret here.