BIGGER THAN TECH
Specific jobs typically require specific communication characteristics. For example, being an outgoing “people person” is great if you are in sales while a more calming, patient approach might help if you work in customer service. But all people – in all jobs – benefit from strong communication skills.
Years ago, simply working behind the scenes, delivering superior technical skill might have been enough. You got by as “the techie in the back room” … allowing your “client facing” colleagues to be the liaison and explain the details. But, these outdated stereotypes no longer apply. It’s simply impossible to be successful if you think of yourself and your skills in a linear, one-track way. Technology is now integral in every aspect of our lives and you can no longer afford to separate your technical skills and your communication skills.
A recent article in CIO magazine highlighted this point following a Federal Data in Action Summit in D.C. One surprise takeaway from the employer-led discussions was “for data science to be really effective, they need people who can articulate the data in a way that makes it understandable to the rest of us — those who need to apply and use the information.” It even seemed more effective to find employees with strong communication skills and teach any lacking technical skills instead of the other way around. Why? One employer summed it up, “The other things really matter more — code can always be learned.”
As the separation of technical and communication skills disappears, every one of us will all have to step out of our comfort zones and grow in the other space, particularly as you seek senior roles and leadership responsibilities. Einstein said, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.” Extracting information, transferring knowledge, answering questions are all basic keys in the “what you say” part of communication. Paired with delivering that information confidently and credibly – the “how you say it” part of communication will put you well on your way to be the strong communicator today’s workplace demands.