In this episode I'm talking about a few common communication problems I have noticed around me during my career, and about how to improve your communication skills.

Notes

Importance

  • no matter what size of your company or project, you have to communicate with others
  • your peers
  • your manager
  • your clients
  • your colleagues from other teams
  • even the best code won't fix poor communication
  • you might get high in a career ladder without good communication skills
  • it is more difficult though
  • often above senior level lack of good communication might be a blocker

Basic rules of communication

  • always be respectful
  • this might sound easy, but I've seen cases of people being disrespectful in basically every company I've ever worked with
  • let people finish their thoughts
  • I can't emphasize this enough
  • I had a lot of cases where people were interrupting each other
  • assume people have good intentions
  • that's not always true and some people are assholes, I'll make a video about dealing with assholes in the future

Common problems

  • interrupting - people who don't let other finish their thoughts are the worst
  • always negative - I used to be like that, I was always sceptical about new requirements, and while it was good to force putting some more thoughts into what we want to achieve before coding, it had negative impact on the team morale
  • blunt/rude - this is quite tricky one, as it highly depends on the culture of the country, workplace etc., I'll talk about it more later, but there are situations where you can be considered rude without noticing that
  • talk too much - another common problem is talking too much; there are a few reasons here
  • some people just need to use a lot of words to express their thoughts, which is fine, but it might be quite distracting and others might lose focus
  • some people dominate the conversation, and others might feel that they're unable to contribute much because of that one dominating colleague

How to improve your skills

  • understand cultural differences
  • there's a chance you work and/or live in a multi-cultural environment
  • different cultures have different ways of communication
  • pay attention to whom you're talking
  • some people might be more sensitive to direct language, some might need direct language in order to understand what you mean
  • find out what you can do better
  • when you notice that sometimes you might sound too harsh when commenting on ideas of other people, or that you sound too confident, take note
  • make sure to pay attention next time to stop before you say anything and think about how to phrase what you want to say
  • when writing emails
  • read it once again before sending to ensure that what you want to say is clear, that nobody will misunderstand what you want to say

We all screw up (removed from video, will do another time)

  • it happens to all of us that we might make a mistake and insult or offend someone. The way to deal with is:
  • admit that you were in wrong
  • apologize for your action
  • don't say "sorry about how you felt", that's not an apology, that's bullshit
  • say "I'm sorry for my action"
  • reflect on what caused it and what you can do to avoid it next time
  • for example, I once joked about my teammate
  • it was a rather innocent joke, but as a less experienced developer he was sad that I, someone he looked up to, made fun of him - from his perspective there was so called power distance between us and he could not make such joke about me
  • I've learned my lesson, I apologized, and I remembered that while I might not see it as such, I can worsen my relations with my teammates if I make fun of them