Solve An Interpersonal Problem – Journal 7

During the last weekend, I attended one Engineering Futures seminar offered by Tau Beta Pi (TBP) Honor Society. The Engineering Futures curriculum comprises five courses, including People Skills, Team Chartering, Group Process, Analytical Problem Solving, and Effective Presentation Skills. As a new member of TBP, I learned quite a lot in last semester’s “Effective Presentation Skills” seminar while meeting lots of new friends (undergrads and graduate students). So once the registration opened, I immediately signed up for this semester’s “People Skills”.

Although it was on Saturday morning, I made it on time (hurray!). Two instructors were already there and got the room setup perfectly. During the self-introduction process, besides the normal name and department, we were told to come up with three things about ourselves, and among them, two were facts and the rest one was false. I like this way of presenting things since the audience need to listen carefully while watching/observing the tone and gesture of the speaker to identify which statement is false. A majority of people made up a wrong number of siblings or pets in their home, and the room was filled with laughter during the whole process.

Back to the main theme, it turned out the specific topic of “People Skills” was to address the interpersonal problem through effective communication. The instructors were well prepared with lots of short videos to simulate the practical issues in our daily life. The first part of the seminar targeted at how to address interpersonal problems. Most of us students want to be friendly and try to bury this kind of interpersonal problem as deep as we can. However, if interpersonal issues cannot be solved timely, the negative energy will accumulate and eventually burst out. The instructor told us that, when dealing with interpersonal issues, we should always be DIRECT, be SPECIFIC, and be NON-PUNISHING. To me, sometimes I feel really difficult to point out the issue for other people, since everyone has their own difficulties. Through this seminar, I learned that identify this issues directly and clearly to my friend can actually help them improve. During this process, I also need to care about their feelings and rephrase my sentence properly from their perspective.

The second part of the seminar focused on diagnosing the interpersonal problems. We need to diagnose these issue before apply suitable mitigation strategies. The instructor revealed that there are three major categories: motivational, ability, and mixed problems. Always address the motivational problem first by making the people wants to change their behavior. This requires you to show them the consequences, for example positive (if they can change) or negative ones (if they cannot). Obviously, positive consequences should be preferably illustrated, such as indicating their unique contribution to the whole project and great self-promotion through effective team working. Once motivational problems are solved, we can easily handle the ability problems. For example, if the person have no idea about the starting angle of a big project, I can offer some suggestions and tips.

The instructor presented the 4-h “People Seminar” so well that made me feel like it only lasted for 1 hour. I learned quite a lot of tips to handle interpersonal problems in the lab, in the dormitory, and maybe in my later career. Right now, I’m really looking forward of the next semester’s topic of the “Engineering Futures”.

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