Engineering Communication

By: Sydney Scheiner

After meeting so many new people this year, I was surprised to find out how many of them were science and engineering majors. Just on my floor there are potential mechanical engineers, chemists, and nurses. Because I am a communication interest major, they often tease me about my “easy” classes and “light” workload. I often laugh it off and playfully brag about how I don’t need to memorize every bone in the body or know why carbon explodes with some other atom I don’t know the name of. I don’t usually make an effort to explain why I chose to pursue communications, but I know it wasn’t because it was “easy.”

In fact, I think communicating is a wildly underrated skill that some are beginning to lose, while geniuses try to learn how to do it better by keeping up with our fast paced and ever-changing means of communication. No, we may not need to learn to read the Periodic Table of Elements, but we do need to learn to read and understand something much more difficult and complex: people.

Most people will view “communicating” as not a skill, but an instinct, a part of us. It’s something everybody is born with the ability to do. So how can it be considered a skill? While in many ways this is a valid argument, it is often misunderstood that not everybody has the ability to communicate effectively.

It has actually been scientifically proven there are people who have high cognitive complexity and people who have low cognitive complexity. The brains of cognitively complex people are better able to tailor messages to certain individuals or groups in order to be understood more effectively (it also doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to persuade someone). For example, a cognitively complex person would be able to convince both his mom and his best friend to do his Spanish paper so he could take this girl he met out to dinner. He’d tell his best friend that he scored a hot chick and really doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity because of a homework assignment. Then he’d tell his mom that he met a nice girl who he could potentially see himself marrying (and that he can’t wait to introduce them). A person who’s not so cognitively complex would tell both people the same thing.

Professionals in the world of public relations, advertising and different types of marketing have no choice but to learn how to communicate effectively and be cognitively complex. Professional communicators can speak at the drop of a hat and tell you exactly what it is you want to hear: “Don’t worry about it son, I’ll take care of your assignment. You kids have fun!”

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Sydney Scheiner is a freshman communication interest major. She graduated from Old Bridge High School in Old Bridge, New Jersey. Other than being a member and writer for PRSSA, she is a member of SCPAB and an active volunteer for Lori’s Hands. Sydney plans to pursue a public relations career in the music industry.

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