The Conversational Engineer

Your engineer can always be counted upon to maintain his share of the conversational load – and everyone else’s share if the topic is to his liking – and almost any topic will do, especially when no one really wants to talk to him at all, and finally it’s a topic that he knows a LOT about from having wasted much of the last 3 weeks researching on the net, and the previous speaker clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about so should be set straight, and he’s finally got an audience who can’t just walk away at a moment’s notice without being really insulting, and … they do anyway.

What were we talking about now?

Ahhh yes… the sharing the sandbox model of conversation!

Well, I’m sad to say, but no one explained this model to your engineer. Neither did he ever hear (or understand to the point of being able to internalize) the maxim about building relationships with others that “It’s better to be interested than interesting!”

In class he didn’t get many opportunities to speak. When he did speak, he had to state facts versus opinions or thoughts or the professor would lead the laughter.

Outside of class, he was in a cutthroat competition for air time with a classroom full of other geeks who never got any attention for their well-developed sense of delivering a lecture when a few sentences expressing agreement for someone else’s idea would do quite nicely!

Away from school it got even worse. People out there recognized the symptoms of geekiness, and, even if he was dressed by Carson Kressley, within 15 seconds of the start of his opening monologue, the woman would be answering her phone (“It’s on buzz”) and pretending that she has to leave right now for her uncle’s funeral. It didn’t even matter if she had just bought a $10 drink and not had so much as a sip out of it!

Ego deflating? You bet!

Many engineers became silent brooders, always lurking on the sidelines of the group conversation for the chance to again be the star of the night, when the world would recognize his overall brilliance, and all bow to his mastery of the language. And you thought males just fantasized about sex????  Well, welcome to the double fantasy life of the engineer! Life’s not just about sex (because engineers do know that you have to go to work some hours of the day), but to actually have people who will listen to your monologues – unbelievable!

How do you help your engineer learn to have conversations in which he actually shares the sandbox with others?

My recommendation is to try a club like Toastmasters. It costs very little, and they time the speeches, interrupting anyone who talks too long. A few times being forced back to his seat without an opportunity to sum up the incredible flight of intellectual brilliance he’s unleashed on the meeting will help your engineer learn to focus on delivering a quick message and then shutting up. Better yet, when he’s not an actual speaker, he might have to listen to someone else to evaluate their speaking!

So he learns to speak more clearly for shorter time periods, and learns to listen, while you get a relaxed evening with yourself? WOW – a triple winner!

As always, you should be grateful for your engineer. Every one of your friends worries about getting a word out of their husband at the best of times. You don’t have their problem, now do you?

Finally, be thankful that you didn’t marry an accountant. No matter how bad it might be, your engineer at least has a sense of humor. Smile, and enjoy another day full of wonder.

You are welcome!