The Empathetic Engineer

Routinely, your engineer will be put in situations where it will be necessary to completely understand and mirror the complex emotional state of another human being who is currently in some form of distress. Your engineer will handle these situations with aplomb – amazing everyone around with his ability to quickly forge strong interpersonal bonds with…

OK, who are we kidding. There is no engineer anywhere who could meet the description above. In fact, the title of this post is an oxymoron, like George Carlin expounding on “jumbo shrimp” or “military intelligence”. At least your engineer can spell empathetic – most of the time!

In order to have any empathy, a person must be in touch with his or her own emotions.Your engineer has been in denial of his basic emotional needs for so long, he almost believes that he’s the vanguard of a new version of computer-like humans, like Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

BTW, you can learn a lot by discussing the character in The Next Generation with which your engineer most closely identifies himself. The choices, and their implication for your engineer, are:

  1. Captain Picard – your engineer views himself as a future lord and master of a vast domain. Clearly he is delusional, thinking that his elevated IQ will make up for his miniscule EQ, but let him have his dream! It keeps him moving forward!
  2. Commander Riker – he’s smart, handsome, witty, and a successful man with the ladies! Really, no engineer should self identify with Riker. Professional counseling may be needed!
  3. Engineer Laforge – He was blinded by some accident, then was fitted with electronic “glasses” wired directly to his brain allowing him to see “normally”. Your engineer believes that technology can solve any problem, and can even allow us to see the world in a better way. Sorry, but there is clear evidence of more delusional thinking happening here!
  4. Data – Data is a computer, built to look like a real person. He doesn’t understand the motivations for much of what is going on around him, and begins to think he would like to develop emotions to become more human-like. Engineers identifying with Data at least know who they are – computational misfits who don’t understand the role that emotions play in motivating others. They carry the vague hope of some day becoming more than they are now.

Now you know!

As always, you should be grateful for your engineer. Every one of your friends has a husband with complex needs and wants. 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!