Communication with others is an essential part of a software developer’s job. As a software developer, you will frequently communicate with other developers on your team, non-technical team members, stakeholders, and software users. It is a stereotype that developers are all introverts who like to stay in their room for days and just code. But communication is a skill that all developers must have and keep working on.
Good communication skills will enable you to work well with your team and others by effectively communicating your messages. Because software development is a technical field, honing your technical skills often takes precedence over honing other skills. On the other hand, communication skills can be argued to be just as important as technical skills. Failures in software teams are caused more often by communication than by technical issues.
How do good communication skills help developers?
Consider a web designer/developer working for an off-shore client to get a better picture of the role of communication in an IT professional’s day-to-day work. Consider that all communications between the client and the company are conducted via email. This is where good communication skills come into play in business. The professional must understand why the client is thinking the way they are. This requires the professional to read between the client’s emails. This can assist the professional in providing the client with ground-breaking solutions.
There may be occasions when the client is incorrect. The IT professional must be patient and diplomatic when responding to the client. The professional should gain the client’s trust through how they communicate. This can go a long way toward assisting clients in making quick and informed decisions whenever there is a change in technology. It also enables the company to serve its clients better and establish long-term business relationships with them. If you are a developer, here are some ways you can improve your communication skills:
Learn to listen
The most important skill to cultivate if you want to be a good communicator is listening. This is because excellent communication occurs when all parties reach a point of mutual understanding.
A mutual understanding is even more critical in a highly technical job like software development. Differences in implementation understanding can result in errors and bugs, extended project timelines, and disappointment due to unmet expectations.
As humans, we frequently rush to express our thoughts and opinions before allowing the person we communicate to finish speaking. We stop listening when we develop an opposing argument or what we believe to be a better idea. As a result, poor communication habits develop. It would be best to learn not to interrupt others when speaking to you to improve your communication skills. Pay close attention to what the other person is saying. When you’re ready to add your thoughts to the conversation, one clever technique is to quickly rephrase what the other person just said to demonstrate that you understand what they’re saying.
Your body language is also essential when listening to someone else speak to you. Being involved in the conversation demonstrates that you are interested in what the other person says and shows respect. Maintain a comfortable amount of eye contact, stand/sit with good posture, and concentrate on the conversation and not to make it obvious but don’t look away or use your phone. Those are the worst kind of friends or colleagues to have. Listening is essential for effective communication and should be the first skill you work on as a software developer.
Present your work to others
As a software developer, you must communicate your work and ideas to others. This is how effective collaboration begins. You must be able to clearly express yourself when discussing what you built, why you made it, and how you created it.
You must be able to communicate appropriately, depending on the situation. Most of the time, you’ll be sharing with other developers, and you’ll be able to communicate in a highly technical manner. Other times, you’ll be speaking with a non-technical audience, and you’ll need to communicate in a way that people understand what you’re saying without resorting to technical jargon.
Presenting your work to others is one of the best ways to improve your spoken communication. Showcase your work to your team and others. Volunteer to show at team demos, code reviews, stand-ups, and any other opportunities that arise at your workplace.
After you’ve presented your work, always solicit feedback from a few people. Make use of the feedback to improve your future presentations. You will enhance your ability to express your ideas and discuss your work over time. When you have to present your work to others, it will also become less stressful.
Speak at meetups and conferences
For software developers, public speaking can be a terrifying experience. Committing to speaking at a software meetup or conference is one of the best ways to improve your general speaking skills.
Find some conference meetups in your area and apply to speak about a topic you are passionate about. Once you’ve been chosen to speak at a rally or conference, you’ll need to practise so you can give an excellent presentation. This is where all of the learning takes place. You’ll need to practise making good eye contact with the audience, speaking at a volume that everyone can hear, using good body language and posture, and speaking clearly. These valuable skills for giving an excellent presentation will improve your general communication skills as a by-product.
You will improve your spoken communication skills if you constantly practise public speaking.
Writing some documentation will provide you with an excellent and cost-free opportunity to practise written communication. There will be numerous opportunities to write required documentation as a software developer working in a team.
Deployment notes, code review notes, user instructions, API documentation, incident reports, product/project proposals, and many other types of documentation are examples of documentation written by software developers. These documents must be written clearly and concisely for their intended audience.
Volunteer to write documentation when opportunities arise to improve your written communication skills. Constantly solicit feedback from the audience for the documentation you create. This will assist you in enhancing any future documents you write.
You can write technical or non-technical documentation. Both are critical aspects of software developer communication daily.
Start a blog
Another excellent way to practise and improve your written communication skills is to start your blog. Having your blog will provide you with a public audience, and you will need to learn how to write blog posts so that they communicate topics simply and straightforwardly. You can write about any topic you are interested in on your blog. This will help you stay motivated to start a blog and publish blog posts regularly. Remember that writing consistently is the best form of practice, and your writing skills will improve over time.
You will receive feedback from your audience if you keep comments from the audience open on your blog. Utilize the feedback to improve future posts and your back-and-forth with the audience. Over time, you will gain confidence in expressing your thoughts publicly, which is a skill that all software developers will need as they work in teams throughout their careers. And this can act as a win-win situation for you because if people start liking your blog, you will be able to earn some extra bucks out of it overtime.
Those were some of the tips that I use in my personal and professional life to improve my skills and gain some confidence. To sum up, communication includes three main pillars, especially as a developer. If you focus on these 3 areas, you are good to go!
Interpersonal communication skills are the first thing a hiring manager will notice about you during the initial phone interview. Before you even open your mouth, the ability to give a good handshake, make appropriate eye contact, and smile is critical to creating an excellent first impression. Employers prefer people who are easy to work with, especially in startup environments where each individual wears many hats.
In technology, written communication is essential, from emails to user manuals/wikis. Maintaining good written communication skills does not stop there — once you get a job, you must effectively express yourself in writing. Whether you’re writing requirements documents outlining all of the assets required from various technical teams for a project, submitting a ticket for QA assistance with a bug, or submitting a pull request to contribute to an open development project, the ability to communicate in writing clearly and descriptively is critical.
Although collaboration can aid in the resolution of a variety of business issues, it is not without conflict. Negotiation skills are essential because they can assist colleagues in reaching an agreement when differences of opinion arise in a workplace team. This is especially important in software development, where projects are increasingly multidisciplinary, requiring assets not only from the engineering department but also from the creative, marketing, and supply chain teams, to name a few. Engineers must be able to discuss their concerns diplomatically, listen to and understand the problems of others, and compromise when necessary to try to get these various stakeholders on the same page.
Software developers rarely work alone. Other parties are involved, including other developers, stakeholders, users, and a slew of others. So I hope you will adopt these tips and tricks and be a well-rounded developer.