The world can be a vicious place. Your engineer knows this from many first hand experiences. All the same, his intellect loves the idea of fairness – that all things being equal, we should all be treated the same.
To your engineer, intellect is the great unequalizer – and your engineer KNOWS he’s got more of that than most, so he deserves more than his share. Anybody can play in the sandbox at work, playing up to the boss for the next promotion, but your engineer can fix PROBLEMS! Funny how the money and career advancement never seem to happen quite the way he thinks it will.
But enough about the fairness of life for your engineer – in this post we are more concerned with his perception that others be treated fairly.
When asked to pick sides when the game comes on, your engineer will pick his home team (even he knows that is the safest choice). If the home team aren’t playing, he’ll try to determine if there is a prohibitive favorite. If so, he’ll go with the favourite – no one likes to be on the bad side of a lopsided loss, least of all an engineer who needs all the social cred he can muster! However, if there is no favorite, your engineer will chime in with, “I’ll go for the underdog”. He can’t help it: in the deep recesses of his subconscious mind, it’s like cheering for himself against the world!
Having been a social outcast much of his teen and adult life, your engineer recognizes when people are downtrodden. When your engineer spies an injustice, he categorizes it as a problem – and that’s where you problem begins!
Your engineer NEEDS to fix problems – it’s the source of his self-worth! He feels compelled to help right injustices! The world should simply follow his lead. An example is when a pedestrian is at a marked crosswalk, with the lights flashing. Once the lights start, the pedestrian has the right of way. The smart pedestrian learns to make sure that all the vehicles are capable of stopping before stepping off the sidewalk into traffic. Being right, but being dead is not much fun! Too bad your engineer isn’t smart that way!
Your engineer should use the “dead right” analogy more often, but he doesn’t quickly recognize politics as a concern. He’s almost always ready to champion a cause, no matter the odds! Like Don Quixote, he’ll fight battles that not only can’t be won, but that shouldn’t have been started in the first place. After all, if the rest of the world could only see the power of his logic, then THEY would ALL change!
How can you possibly help your wayward do-gooder?
When you sense his injustice antennae are up, ask your engineer who’s on his side and who’s on the other side. If he acknowledges that the teams aren’t even, then ask a direct question like, “Is this an issue that you are ready to die for?” He might stop and listen to you, but remember, his attention span is short when it comes to dealing with people issues!
As always, keep it extremely simple when explaining people to your engineer. “You know that people keep score, don’t you?” He’ll nod yes. “Well, if you lose too often, you’ll be thought of as a loser. Are you willing to take that risk for this issue?”
Hopefully, he’ll come to his senses. If not, there are always the job boards and those few head hunters willing to work with engineers.