Skip to main content

5 Keys to Building Successful Engineering Relationships

Written by: Jazzy Principe
Published on: Jul 22, 2021

successful engineering relationships
Image credit: Lucky Business/Shutterstock

Civil engineering is nothing without context.

That means community.

And community means communication.

But how can civil engineers successfully form successful relationships with the members of the communities their projects serve?

ASCE Orange County Younger Member Forum Past-President Jazzy Principe, A.M.ASCE, a project manager and executive advisor at Jacobs, offered some tips for building successful engineering relationships Jan. 26 as part of ASCE Younger Member Week, a weeklong series of professional development and networking events for young engineers.

Jazzy PrincipeHere are Principe’s five keys to building successful engineering relationships:

1. Be a good listener

  • Practice active listening
  • Take mental or physical notes
  • Pay attention to their delivery
  • Visualize what’s being said
  • Have empathy
  • Eliminate distractions

“I had a teacher in elementary school who always said, ‘God was intentional in designing our bodies to have two ears and one mouth – and that’s so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.’ And that always resonated with me,” Principe said.

2. Immerse yourself in diversity

  • Diversify your network
  • Open up seats at your table
  • Get to know your team and work environment
  • Practice the Platinum Rule – treat others how they want to be treated

“Add more crayon colors to your crayon box. Don’t just color with the same eight crayons, that’s too basic,” Principe said. “You at least want the 24-pack. And you get that by actively seeking people who are different “shades” from you – people of different ages, cultures, areas of expertise, and roles in your organization. You really don’t know what you don’t know, until you start talking with people outside of your normal circle.”

3. Be an octopus

  • Adapt to your audience and surroundings
  • Be prepared to change your communication style
  • Tailor your content to your audience
  • Reframe how you view negotiation
  • Be clear about expectations

What’s super cool about octopuses is that they’re able to change their color to blend in with their surroundings. Not only that, but they can also change their skin texture to match too!” Principe said.

4. Invest in yourself

  • Know your superpowers
  • Know your weaknesses
  • Know your boundaries
  • Prioritize and protect your health
  • Be intentional about how you spend your time and with whom
  • Exercise self-discipline

“Do some introspection. What do you see in your reflection? What experience can you bring to the table? What makes you, you? What’s your secret sauce?” Principe said.

5. Lift as you rise

  • Be a “force multiplier” – bring positivity and enthusiasm
  • Have perpetual optimism
  • Don’t waste your seat at the table
  • Help others shine
  • Create a ripple effect

“I learned this from one of my biggest role models at Jacobs, Heather Wishart-Smith. She always said that you’re never too early in your career to mentor, inspire, and assist others. And that when you succeed, always lift others up with you. Because people will forget what you said and did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel,” Principe said.

Learn more about ASCE Younger Member Week.