Can We Talk about Barriers? — Introverts and Scientists


Janet L. D. Vogel

During my time in Federal leadership and program management–and also as an information technology specialist–I have experienced a couple of often overlooked barriers to negotiation and conflict resolution.

First, scientists and technologists may be more likely to have “introverted” personalities and to be “quieter” in nature. How we approach an issue resolution with people that have different traits will often lead us to success or disaster. Before addressing a conflict it is important to determine not only what the goals and interests of the other party may be but also to understand their personality traits. respecting our different natures and traits will keep the door open for successful resolution.

Second, each functional discipline uses its own “language.” This is the use of terminology or acronyms that are meaningful for us, but don’t necessarily translate to anything of meaning to our adversaries/co-negotiators/partners. For example, “techie talk” or “environmental speak” can sound like gibberish and become meaningless to others. It is like what Charlie Brown hears when his teacher talks –“wah, wah, wah, wah.” The effort to meet the audience on their own turf so that they can understand what we are saying is critical for success. We must take extra steps to translate our pitch into something meaningful in their world. For example, by using their measures of success, we can stress the benefit to them of taking a certain action, and the impact or consequences, to their business or program if action is not taken.

It may take a little homework but when we communicate with our audience in mind the likelihood of success is greatly improved.

Janet L. D. Vogel, President, The Vogel Group (TVG) LLC

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