Communication Skills: Now You’re Speaking My (Non-Programming) Language!
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 4th of an eight-part series, where we delve deeper into the Whole Developer concept and each of its elements.
This week, we explore Communication Skills, why they’re important, and how you can improve yours. If you missed the rest of the series, click here to check it out]
So, you've got some serious hard skills. Your coding expertise earns the respect and admiration of your peers. But when it's time to pitch in front of a panel of investors, your hands are too sweaty to even hold the microphone. What now?
If you’re a Whole Developer, you’ll blow the VCs away and get the funding you worked hard for. While everyone gets butterflies in their stomachs while pitching and presenting, the Whole Developer has learned how to make their butterflies fly in formation.
Why Learn Communication Skills?
Bad Luck Brian could’ve avoided this situation with better communication skills. Source: Quickmeme
Mindful communication is how we overcome fear and drive through to reach our goals. Recognizing the power of language is the starting point for the Whole Developer in sharpening their communication skills.
Language is a uniquely human capability, and is both our most powerful and constantly used skill - from ordering smoothies to orchestrating a merger. Obviously, mindful language and communication are more important in the board room than the juice bar. That's why Whole Developers depend on these skills.
Think of the pain of getting rejected at prom: you don't want to let that happen when you're up on stage pitching your app.
Becoming an Expert Communicato
You weren't born knowing how to code. You had to learn and practice until it became like a second language to you. But don't think for a second that you have to fit the stereotype of the geek who can only communicate in the language of code.
Likewise, salespeople, marketers and MC’s are not born experts. Just like the karate master at the local dojo punched and kicked his way to the top, savvy communicators develop their skills with experience and practice. Communication double black belts can take it one step further to motivate audiences to do something, whether it's wearing a new style of clothes or funding a product. It's damn near mind control.
The Whole Developer can work these skills in the same way. Mindfulness of communication and regular practice builds up mastery. Eventually, your Jedi communication powers will have CEOs and VCs bending to your will.
Just like hard skills, soft skills like communication won't come without effort. Fortunately, humans are inherently social creatures, so you can practice at nearly any time, in almost any situation.
Start Small, Then Scale Up
Start with your friends, family, or colleagues — people you won't risk your finances or reputation with, and are willing to help you out. Think about your regular interactions with them, then take things to the next level.
So, it's not important to improve your communication with teammates or colleagues because you're all working on the same projects, right? WRONG! The Navy Seals don't operate like a Call Of Duty free for all. They're in constant communication of where they are, and what they're aiming at.
Make your office a communication battlefield. Whether it's a quick reload or frag out, your team should communicate every move. This will get and keep everyone on the same page. Even better, repeated yammering will make your whole team equally qualified when the opportunity to communicate with investors or influencers arises.
Master Your Message
To be ready for communication combat, you have to know exactly why you do the work you do. Ask yourself why you like it, why it's great and different, and why you're excited about it. Then share what you've learned with other people. This will help you practice the language of your success.
Repeatedly talking about and describing your work will uncover words and phrases that capture your goals. Be sure to mix it up: the same descriptions won't mean the same thing to everyone. Varied interactions will show if different words and phrases are effective or not.
Know Your Audience
Your words can’t be the same in every situation. Skilled communicators know how to use different language for different interactions. You probably already do this – you wouldn’t explain your product the same way to a panel of investors as you would to your grandma. Experts adapt their language to the audience, instead of assuming they’re already on the same page.
Great communication requires mindfulness and awareness of the moment, but not just of your own thoughts and feelings—it's just as important to be aware of your audience. Read your audience as you communicate with them. Note their body language and subtle changes in their voice. They’ll give away more than they think.
Or, you know, pitching. That’ll get you funded. Source: Memecenter
Excitement is contagious, so make sure it comes through in your communication! Your audience will notice your passion. This will engage them further, and when you're finished, they’ll want to share your excitement and get involved.
Be that surfer bro recounting the sweetness of those gnarly waves. To him, the epicness of those breakers was too great not to get stoked. Didn’t he make you want to go out and ride some waves? Why should talking about your work be any different?
Don’t believe us? Check out what other experts have to say. They break communication down into a simple step-by-step process, including:
1. Think about others, and what they think about you
2. Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact
3. Use the right words for the situation
4. Chill out, relax, get comfy
Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, so take a look. It’s almost like the writers think there’s a science to interacting with people. Actually, this one was written by a scientist. These communications on communication will help you as a communicator when you’re communicating.
The Whole Developer program, coming this fall, has a strong focus on the art of communication. By the end of the course participants will have the confidence to pitch to anyone, anywhere, anytime. It’s all part of being a balanced and well rounded human being. Learn more here.