Developer Soft Skills
Inspired by Dave Fravel’s tweet, https://twitter.com/dfravel/status/963468916617023488:
Dear Future Developers – half of your work day will be spent interacting with other humans. Do yourself a favor and take a few writing and public speaking courses in school. also – it wouldn’t hurt to practice being a good, compassionate, patient human being
Improving soft skills should be a priority for any developer. They help avoid misunderstandings, create opportunities, and advance your career.
Communication skills are essential to growing and advancing throughout your development career, especially if planning to enter management, lead projects, or interact with clients. Here are a few brief tips on improving communication skills while working in software development.
Practice Public Speaking
Most people hate speaking in front of people. As a result, the people who are confident and good at public speaking can stand out from the crowd. Public speaking doesn’t have to mean giving a speech, it can simply mean communicating your ideas clearly in front of a group – sharing an idea in a meeting, persuading your team to approach a project a certain way, or helping a client understand how you will solve their problem.
More importantly, becoming proficient at public speaking requires organizing your ideas and having clarity in your thinking. You’ll benefit from the confidence and transparency that comes with speaking clearly.
Leaders Listen and Speak Last
If you want to be seen as a leader, listen more than you speak and develop the habit of speaking last. You’ll benefit from hearing everyone else’s ideas before you speak and everyone in the room will have their opinion heard. Truly listening and not jumping in with your opinion right away takes patience and self-moderation, but it helps you become a thoughtful and empathic leader and not appear as a know-it-all.
How You Write Things Matters
From emails to code documentation, the words you write matter. Take some writing classes to improve your skills; share your writing with colleagues and ask for their edits; use services like Grammarly to make your writing more clear and precise. People will judge your competence and character based off the way you write, so it’s worth getting better at writing.
There are also important conventions to learn for writing emails and other correspondence. It can be tricky for some developers to learn the difference between too formal and too casual in your emails. Getting it right reflects well on you and your company.
Many developers make the mistake of focusing on technical expertise at the expense of social and written communication skills. The reality is that software development involves a lot of human interaction and non-verbal communication, some of it very complex. You need to clearly communicate ideas to colleagues, but also clearly explain concepts to non-technical clients and partners. Improving communication skills is of similar importance as improving technical skills for becoming a better developer.