Culture Clash: “Just the facts, m’am.”

Engineers spend years studying facts in their classwork.

Laws of gravity and mechanical leverage.

The rules of mathematics.

The sometimes-exasperating way a computer will do exactly what your lines of programming say… even if it wasn’t what you intended.

What you can ignore, and what must you account for. And how to apply your knowledge in an inexact world.

Mistakes can be costly: a bad yearly performance review, millions of dollars in recalled product, your job, or even the passenger’s life in the case of an automobile or aircraft failure.

As an aerospace engineer, I was taught that storytelling was a time-wasting distraction in a meeting, and sometimes was a way to distract from numbers that were not pleasing… and to be on guard for those effects when stories were being told.

In the world of the engineer, facts are crucial.

In comparison network marketing places the emphasis on telling stories.

The thrill of discovery of the product. The perseverance of the founder.

How you found your current company.

Tales of celebrations when milestones were reached.

An innocent misstatement of a detail doesn’t necessarily negate the lesson taught in the story.

And trying to learn (and teach) all the facts about your company’s pay plan can be paralyzing to the growth of your distributor organization.

I propose a balanced solution.

Engineers Can: build the skills of engaging storytelling.
A reasonable number of facts can be woven into a presentation, or simply held in memory until the question is asked.

To Communicate With Engineers: tell stories but be ready with your facts!
Be prepared to give a one-sentence synopsis of your story’s lesson that includes an important fact, such as “We sold ___% more product in 2012 compared to 2011.” Third party tools (such as DVDs and links to research articles about the product) can be helpful to present facts.

In A Nutshell:
If your stories seem outlandish to an engineer, they will become believable if you can back them up with verifiable facts.

–LYnn

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