Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Communication, what of it?

By:  B.Y., Software Engineer @ G2

Communication seems to be something we struggle with in the technology community. More often than not I find myself in a difficult situation with someone (typically client site) because they are using words they don't understand OR have an incorrect / undefined meaning of them. This issue with communication goes far beyond our work at G2 though and seems to have become a global epidemic in other fields.
A beautiful example is here:
To sum it up people who were asked about 'Cloud' computing didn't really understand it all. Sometimes I think these simple wins are what can really do to get G2 ahead in the game. I don't want to speak for anyone else in the company, but it seems to me that we, as knowledgable experts in our field, should be communicating our knowledge in effective ways to others so that we don't continue to spread confusion. In my mind this includes correcting someone when using a term incorrectly (in a nice way) or asking the customer / friend / fellow G2'er to further clarify what they mean so that both parties can better interact.
I've been doing a lot of this with the IAD Cloud Migration and, if done in a calm and mannered tone, makes demo's / briefings / interactions much more effective. I find that the customer and the groups I work with all tend to have a better idea of the technology behind what they want to accomplish and why things can, or cannot, happen the way they would like. My questions for clarification also help by enlightening me on their true intent and understanding the overall goals which usually tie into how the technology will interface with other components.
Additionally (shameless plug to watch more TED) when I was at TED there was a Fellow there, a communcations professor from Penn State, who gave a wonderful presentation on her experiences with teaching scientists versus non-scientists (business, law, art, etc.). She explained that the biggest hurdle was to get them to realize that if they spoke in a language no one else (except them) spoke in, they weren't actually communicating at all. Case and point, if someone were to say "Well the stocastic nature of this function paired with its geometric density temporally concludes its parametric basis" the person on the other end would get lost. I got lost typing it.
Overall, I feel it is our duty as scientists, subject matter experts, guides, mentors, etc. to ensure that we can properly convey our findings, feelings, and understandings to each other otherwise they'll die with us which helps no one. I challenge everyone to think about their communication patterns with others and to explore new ways for us to engage and enlighten the people we interact with!
Happy chatting!

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