Must Have Soft Skills for the Engineering Practitioner

As a professional in the Architectural, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry, the reliance on practical and technical know-how is a must and cannot be negotiated. It goes without saying that the field centers around what solutions the individuals practicing can create, develop, and proffer using a combination of head knowledge, acquired skills, and theories of practice.

Asides from these necessary hard skills required by experts in the AEC industry, there are some soft skills that are important and should be harnessed or acquired by such individuals, which are specifically important to make them better equipped to handle the nature of their jobs.

In general, these soft skills are human qualities which when mastered correctly, allows a person function on a job and relate properly with other individuals, efficiently – at home, at work, and anywhere. These characteristics include the ability to properly interface with others in group settings to achieve a common goal – in a work environment this would be referred to as team settings, while also being able to take responsibility for these group of people in a leadership capacity – these abilities embodies leadership, teamwork, and interpersonal relations skills, the ability to adequately and correctly pass across information to the understanding of the other party – communication skills, the ability to not only think outside of a box but to think without the box – creativity, the ability to think fast and act fast especially when it comes to situations that require proffering solutions, amongst others.

Narrowing our focus to the engineering discipline there are certain soft skills that are pre-requisite to having a balanced performance output on site, in the workshop, at the garage and what have you. For the engineering practitioner, having these qualities can make the difference between a good engineer and a great one. To some, it might seem irrelevant as having a degree and a very good one at that should be sufficient to thrive in the industry but it should not be so and that is not necessarily the true situation of things. There is no field or industry that is isolated from the outside world or the society, to whatever degree there is a link to other people. To deal with clients, these traits come in handy.

As a civil engineer for instance, in the course of handling a built or construction project, dealing with a truck load of people is part of the package and this also means that misunderstandings are bound to occur, difficult people would test your patience, deadlines might not be met, and emotions are bound to run wild. In situations like this, emotional intelligence, adaptability, leadership, communication, and interpersonal relations skills are all needed by everyone working on the team, if the plan is to successfully complete and deliver that project.

For the mechanical and electrical electronic engineer, spending long hours in the workshop in order to complete and deliver products could result in a lack of adequate sleep and invariably irritability to mistakes made by fellow workers or even artisans. Soft skills such as time management can play a crucial role, when it comes to handling such matters of fast approaching multiple deadlines, an overload of task, and balancing your work and life.

Many professional lack adequate measures of these skills and it is even more unfortunate that these individuals are oblivious to their short-comings in the area of soft skills. It is not enough to be able to create relationship and networks, how one functions in them says a lot about how much emotional intelligence, communication, active listening, and empathy skills we possess. It is not enough to have a good grasps of the theories and practice of a field, if one is unable to translate that into good performance simply because one lacks the ability to function optimally in team settings, for instance. We all need to hone these soft skills either by using self-help materials or by attending trainings that have these as their focus.

16 December 2021
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