Communication kills or propels your career. Really! You’re smart, but a lot of people are smart. You know your tech, but a lot of people know tech. Half the world’s population is under 30, and many aspire to do the next big thing. I work with these people, and I’ve seen some really smart, qualified people lose their jobs, stagnate in a corner, or repeat the same chapter of their lives in a string of jobs. Something else makes you stand out in a tight tech job market.
My son considers himself a techie. He wants to be you in a year or two. He just finished a summer job as an apprentice in the IT field at a great company, and was asked to continue part-time while he finishes school. In his evaluation, the only negative comment was the need to improve his verbal communication skills. “He communicates well, but there’s always a learning curve when trying to relay information to actual business users.” Those words actually came from his tech manager. Smart man. He is spot on.
Develop great communication skills! Those who do have no limits. Those who don’t will struggle. Here are 4.5 (4 ½) reasons why communication must supplement your technical skillset:
- Communication energizes networking
Networking isn’t just an IT term. You will probably get your next great opportunity through someone you know. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. Actually, both are important. People buy from those whom they know, like, and trust. They recommend and hire the same people. Social media networking influences 93% of buying decisions. Without communication, you can’t develop the relationships that drive business decisions.
- Communication influences people, processes, and ideas
Good communication draws others to you and your ideas. Bad communication pushes them away even when you might otherwise persuade them. Frankly, I like people to challenge my assumptions and paradigms. I like diversity. I learn more when I’m around people with different perspectives. I even argue with myself from time to time just for the heck of it.
I spent several hours in communication recently with a person who sees life very differently than I do. She is actually a great communicator under most circumstances, but her way of communicating in this instance turned me off. I found myself less open to new ideas because of the delivery system she used. She wanted to draw people together. She ended up pushing me away. We had less common ground when we finished talking than we did when we started. Communication made the difference.
- Communication drives production
Make no mistake, you must accomplish things. Your job is to produce, fix, develop, create, or maintain. Without communication, you can’t diagnose problems or propose solutions effectively. You can’t accomplish your vision without a team of people who buy into it. Communication is the vehicle through which you get things done. How many hours have you spent redoing work because of miscommunication? Revision 3.8 should be a clue that we missed some important details. Some of those revisions most assuredly involved miscommunication. If you don’t have time to do something right the first time, when will you have time to redo it? So, getting the communication right increases productivity.
- Communication protects or destroys
The way you say things affects other people as well as yourself. Harsh communication can destroy another’s dignity while wise communication protects. Rarely will you accomplish your goals by hurting other people. Equally true, the absence of communication fails to make a stand when necessary. Sometimes you have to communicate to protect yourself or your team from unrealistic expectations. You have to say “No,” or negotiate agreeable terms. You have to protect your sanity and the sanity of your team.
4.5 Communication solidifies half-baked ideas
I’d complete this thought, but then we wouldn’t have 4.5 reasons.
In conclusion, work on communication throughout your entire life. Don’t stop learning and growing in the strategic skills that unleash and enrich your awesome technical skills to advance your IT career!