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Tips for engineers to communicate more clearly in English

If you communicate unclearly nobody will be on the same page as you. This could result in unexpected engineering design or products.

When native speakers talk with you during a casual coffee chat, you might miss some words when they are talking. But if you can understand 80% of what they say, this can still be fine. However, sometimes the words that you miss are the key words, which could be critical in business communication. So, to ensure the two parties understand each other, it’s often good to rephrase the main ideas in your own words after they have explained some ideas or words which are complicated or difficult. Otherwise, you might waste time and money on an incorrect engineering design.

In addition, when native speakers say some words that you don’t understand, do not focus on the particular words and think over and over again in your head, otherwise you will miss all the words afterwards. If it’s your second language, it can be difficult to receive all the signals for communication. Just keep concentrating on what they are talking about at that moment. When they pause, you might have a better idea on what they are trying to convey and this is the time you can rephrase the idea using your words and ask some clearify questions.

When the meeting is over, it is often helpful to have a formal written document or email summarising the decisions and action points. You can then send it to the meeting participants. This helps everyone and keeps understanding and progress on track. This document/email will help to reconfirm decisions from the meeting, and ensures everyone is always on the same page.

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