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We can't eat compliments

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I learned this phrase many years ago when I worked in Aerospace. It was nice to have a pat on the back once in a while – it made me work harder for the money I was paid. My wife was a visiting Nurse and she too was praised for the work that she did, but when the time came for raises there was no money in the 80’s for raises – only compliments and great annual reviews. My wife came home one day after her wonderful review and told me that she sat there and listened to how tight the economy was (with interest rates into the double digits) and their company was unable to offer raises. My wife looked at her supervisor and finally spoke up; “We can’t eat compliments.”


So what does this have to do with engineering? Plenty! I get three or four compliments each day for the posts and contributions I make on the List and I am sure that those who contribute also get compliments for their opinions. However, in time, we are negated as those who know that we criticize or praise will simply choose to read the posts that they want. In short, we are read by those who agree but are ignored by those who either don’t agree or feel that we are a threat to the work of others.


Making changes can’t be done in private. None of us can accomplish change by being spectators at an event – we have to participate and make the issues that are important to us prominent. There are different perspectives that may allow others who are not convinced one way or the other of some fact or argument that I never thought of.


I urge you to continue to learn, question and not simply be a spectator. Participate – none of us know it all, but as a group, we probably can figure out anything.




Dennis S. Wish, PE

California Professional Engineer

Structural Engineering Consultant



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