Friday, November 22, 2013

A well-oiled machine

Sometimes people are the best thing about life.

Sometimes they're not.

I think the most common and most hinder some problem between people is communication. People don't say what they mean. I get that. Sometimes you'll say something, and realize you're not sure it came across right, but then get nervous and feel that if you explain it again the other person will feel as if you're treating them as someone with inferior intelligence. Other times you're not sure if you're understanding something that someone else said, and don't want to make yourself look silly for not getting it. And then there are those really bad situations, where both parties think they're communicating efficiently, but neither of which is actually talking about the same thing as the other one.

This is can pretty frustrating at work in general, especially when working with a team or with other teams. In a team situation wherein implementation is dependent on multiple people, things can change quickly and it's easy to let communication slip. It's hard to keep up! I work in many such situations, and even when on my own, I have so many things going on that my plans often change. But one thing that I can say with certainty is that it's always appreciated when I give people a heads up when I have to modify my schedule.

This happens a lot in science because sometimes things don't work correctly and one needs more time than they thought. I'm currently pretty lucky in that my team of research undergraduates are committed and will often accommodate any changes that need to be made for the research. Sometimes I take this for granted, especially when something comes up during a period of exams etc when my students are very busy, or when I have less time to be in lab than usual (such as currently, since I'm trying to crunch data, work on my CV, etc, etc, etc). I also take for granted the fact that my lab team communicate with me VERY well, which I am reminded of when I have to deal with someone who does not do so.

Communication for the sake of facilitating coordination of work and sharing of equipment is yet another skill that is invaluable for scientists, and yet woefully under-appreciated. For 90% of situations, I would rather work with someone who is of normal intelligence with good organization and people skills than someone who is exceptionally intelligent. The bottom line is that the former will cause less stress, which I think is pretty important. Everyone reading this should feel welcome to remind me of this entry should I ever be in the position of hiring employees!!

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