When it boils down to it, technologists (regardless of specialty) are essentially problem solvers. But problem solving effectively hinges on understanding and communicating the problems that need to be solved.
Irrespective of the high level of tech understanding you might have—if you have an inadequate or underdeveloped ability to listen, speak, or write, then how good will you perform your job in the long term?
Ask any engineer or developer at the top of his or her games and they are likely to tell you the same thing: communication skills are fundamental in technology workplaces.
A recent American Society of Mechanical Engineers survey described skills like business writing, technical writing, public speaking, and presentation preparation as “crucial to success” as an engineer working in today’s increasingly varied and diverse workplace.
So where does that leave you?
The good news is that even if you feel yourself to be lacking as a communicator, there is actually plenty you can do about it.
Because just like typing, time management, or basic organization, being an effective communicator is a skill that can be developed. We have assembled a few practical hints and tips to help you hone those all-important communication skills.
Six tips to help you communicate better:
- Understand the difference between hearing and listening. Think about it again. Problem solving means understanding the problem to be solved. And often as not, that means listening – carefully – to what others are telling you.
- Aim for clarity. Whether it is an email, a presentation, or even just a conversation, take the time to gather your thoughts and figure out exactly what it is you need to say – and you need others to understand. Simplify your message whenever possible by being concise.
- Email etiquette. And talking of emails, be careful how you handle them. Email is a great way of keeping connected. It is also a perfect pitfall in terms of misunderstandings. Practical tip? Never send an email if you are unsure, upset, angry, or emotional.
- Body talk. We give off signs and signals with our bodies all the time. Try to tune in to what your body might be saying to someone. And that in turn might mean being mindful of the behavior of those around.
- Observing others. How do other people interact? What is the office “code” – and can you observe it and work within it?
- Speak up. It can be tempting to get into a head-down routine that hinders interaction with others at work. But it is worth making the effort to talk, interchange, have lunch, or connect with those you work with. Even if it feels like hard work, making those connections can make the workplace easier and more enjoyable.
Building your communication skills is a step forward in having a successful professional career. This is a skill you will continuously develop throughout your professional and personal life, as it is an evolving skill.