What C-3PO and Spock can teach developers about communicating.
When was the last time you played the game Telephone? For most of us, we haven't participated in that activity since childhood. For those who haven't played it, the game starts when one person whispers a word or phrase in someone's ear. The listener then whispers what they heard to the next person, and so on and so forth. The last person then says out loud what they heard. More often than not, laughter ensues as the first utterance likely displays no resemblance to the last one.
The problem is, children aren't the only ones who struggle to clearly communicate ideas. All too often, this issue plagues the workplace too. In particular, developers know all too well what this feels like.
So what gives? What can developers do to improve communication once and for all? Jeff Hadfield, a member of SAP's Developer Advisory Board, former president/CXO of CodeProject and editor/publisher of Visual Studio Magazine, JavaPro, Enterprise Architect and more, will discuss ways in which developers can more effectively communicate with peers and boost their career in the process.
Hadfield suggests that while communications issues happen at organizations the world over, the problem can be especially acute with developers, engineers and other more technical staff members at a company. The mindset needed to succeed in such a role is often dramatically different than what's needed elsewhere in a business.
Roughly 5 percent of the total U.S. population has the "rational" personality type, Hadfield said. In contrast, the vast majority of engineers and developers fall under this umbrella. To get a sense of what this breakdown means for communications, think of engineers as Spock and everyone else as Captain Kirk.
Hadfield lays out several tips and tricks individuals should try to improve on their ability to effectively communicate with others.
Be a translator of needs: Everyone has different ways of communicating, not just engineers or developers. By understanding what the other person actually needs and how they communicate, you can better ensure everyone's ideas are heard on an equal playing field. "Once we speak their languages, we can communicate better," Hadfield says. "Be that bridge, that protocol droid, between worlds."
Be a pro at Telephone: Whenever someone offers up an idea or feedback, you should be able to articulate the entirety of that message back to the original sender.
Yes And, instead of Just and But: Certain words, like But and Just, can curtail a conversation and stop ideas dead in their tracks. Instead of putting a halt on an idea, Hadfield recommended saying "Yes, and" more frequently to keep a conversation going. This idea actually was popularized by improv comedy.
Practice active listening: More often than out, your mind will begin to wonder during a conversation. Every time this happens, be aware it's occurring and try to cut it out to focus more on actually listening to someone or something.
Ideas, not people: When discussing ideas, people can sometimes conflate criticism of their opinion or remark with criticism of themselves. "We have to lean back and look at the ideas objectively," he recommended. "This idea is not me."
"You'll find that as you trying some of these things, your ideas will be better listened to, you'll get more momentum with your projects, and hopefully your work life will improve," Hadfield said.
These are just some of the tips and tricks Jeff will share in his upcoming webinar. Learn more about why communication problems occur and what you can do to correct them.