Professional Communication Skills (2 Part Series)
For most of us, talking to people within our realms is relatively easy. We all care about similar things, use the same tools, solve similar problems. But when we need to break out of our bubble to collaborate with other functions (design, product, marketing, business, etc.), communication gets harder and harder.
Part of what makes this difficult is that these communication skills are often not emphasized early in our careers. It's usually after we've caught up on the technical skills that these
soft professional skills become more important.
As junior engineers, our day-to-day work often requires hours of continuous individual focus, solving new technical problems, and communicating via Slack with our peers. Occasionally we'll have a 1-on-1 with a manager or participate in team meetings. Most of these interactions involve largely similar communication styles.
After a few years, as you try to level up and start leading projects, you'll immediately start running into problems if you use the same communication styles as before. At first, you'll work with engineers outside of your team, who won't have the same technical background and goals as you. Then more closely with the engineering and product managers, who care about entirely non-technical problems. Eventually you'll scale out of the product org to working with business and legal, who basically speak a different language. How you're used to communicating with fellow engineers on your team is probably not going to work very well when you're working with these other groups of people.
Yet being able to communicate effectively is incredibly important. You have to be able to work across teams and organizations to solve the really big problems. You have to talk to all kinds of different people and convince them to believe in you and trust in you. All of that requires effective communication skills.
In these upcoming articles, I'll do some deep dives into some of the skills that have helped me improve. Stick around!