I have a lot of what I consider great ideas for my engineering communication class, but I just don’t have the time to use them all. When I try, the course becomes a crazy quilt (and I mean “crazy”) of activities and assignments. It becomes way to complicated for students to keep track of. If you’re not living it now, remember or imagine the life of a graduate student in engineering at UCLA. You are pulled in many directions, at the beck and call of your advisor, feeling squeezed between a set of challenging expectations, and trying to meet multiple deadlines. And then I show up to teach your required writing course, all “la-di-da, this is going to be so fun,” BUT you have to check the course website every few minutes to keep up with a large set of mostly-not-very-time-consuming but surprisingly many assignments. That’s just too high a cognitive load to add to the ones these students already have. So, on the course front: simplify, simplify, simplify. And here, at Writineering: get all those other ideas off my chest. If you have the time to try some, alone or with others in your labs, you’ll get multiple positive outcomes. And you’ll be saving some stressed graduate students from my inflicting them with these ideas now! So, just to get you started, here’s big, huge suggestion number one: Read Alan Alda’s book If I Understood You, Would I Have this Look on My Face: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating (2017). And then try out some of his suggestions. While you wait for the book to arrive**, you can start trying to identify the emotions of the people you meet throughout the day. Nothing else, just spend a moment pondering their expressions and behaviors, and then think “grumpy” or “tired” or “cheerful” (or whatever else seems appropriate). Why? For one, you’ll start to notice how often you just barge into a conversation without paying any attention to the other person’s receptivity or mood. Second, you’ll be developing a habit of attention. Third, you’ll probably get better at identifying moods, since your subsequent interaction will give you feedback about how accurate you were. And fourth, you’ll be able to choose your words more appropriately, and have a more productive conversation, with this information at hand. Let me know if you find other benefits, too! ** A note about getting books. I have a lot of ways of accessing books, so I’m going to describe them here. You can probably find similar resources where you live, although the collections might not be as huge. First, I can order it new or used online. This is great: you own the book! But you also have to find shelf space for it, and you have to wait a couple of days. (Of course, you could read it, and then start passing it around to your friends and colleagues—this leads to fun conversations.) Second, I can go to Hoopla and connect to the Los Angeles Public Library, and they usually have the e-book or an audiobook that I can download. I can also go directly to the LAPL website, find the book, and it’s often available by download through Amazon or I can ask them to deliver the physical copy to my local branch library. If they don’t have it, I can check the e-resources of other local library systems (in my wallet are cards for the Beverly Hills Library, the Pasadena/Glendale Library, the Santa Monica Library, and the Culver City Library, but between LA and Beverly Hills, I can pretty much access what I need). You, too, can probably join more than one library system near you. Third, I can use the UCLA Library and even interlibrary loans to get almost any book for free. Sometimes interlibrary loans are a long wait, however.