After completing my undergraduate degree, I took a job with Colt Engineering in order to broaden my horizons.  My direct supervisor asked me to do a structural design for an industrial building using engineering software.  Being a fresh graduate, I poured all my effort and theoretical knowledge learned in higher education into the task.  Since it was my first project, I decided to push the limits and think outside the box.  I drew information from the company’s library and delved into the internet for additional sources.

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After a couple of days, my supervisor, checked in to see how I was doing.  He was impressed with the work and effort I was putting in to the endeavour.  After getting a pat on the back, I was pleased to know my work was being noticed.  Digesting everything and believing I had put it to good use I prepared myself for the presentation.

After the talk, he told me that he had expected something much simpler in a shorter span of time.  I was crestfallen.  In my earnest to create a magnus opus, I had overdone the project to the point of being gaudy overlooking the tenet, simple is sometimes best.  I was not able to clarify the guidelines and therefore wasted time and effort.

The first lesson I learned in my professional career: communication.  It is the meaningful exchange of information and ideas.  I heard the instructions but in retrospect I had not really listened which is really more important.  Also I should have clarified the guidelines and asked for the expected results.

From this early stumble, I decided to improve my communication skills into an effective means of executing tasks.  In my opinion, lost in translation means that the message conveyed may vary from the intended idea of the sender.  Even simple remarks can be taken the wrong way when heard by different people.  The key is to clarify.  Looking back in college, some of my professors’ favourite line is, “Feel free to ask questions.”

I still look back and laugh at that situation when I was still wet behind the ears and eager to please.  Now, more seasoned and having better communications skills, I have improved my efficiency and have an easier time in giving and receiving tasks.

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