In almost every business, even when there are only two participants, there is always a need to communicate. The emphasis of teaching others to speak well, write well, and in general communicate their point clearly and decisively is very important. I however have found that one soft skill that is just as much, if not more important, is making sure that whoever you are communicating to is hearing what you are saying.
All to often in work environments people communicate the entire day with a mere percentage of that being effective. The problem is not always clear and decisive communication but getting and knowing when someone is hearing and understanding you.
In the technology field that is multitudes more important, everything is loaded with context, and even a slightly wrong assumption, or notion will land a task or effort at risk of being completed properly. In the technology industry doing something improperly is often as bad or worse than just not doing it at all.
I just happened recently to start thinking about some past companies I have worked at and realized that one of my strong points is communicating, however I have a weak point inside the strong point. I don’t always get, or even know how to get people to listen and hear me. I’ve told people things that are of immense importance to be brushed aside, only to state, “I told you so” a few months later. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the I told you so statements, but I’d rather just be heard and be able to have effective communication and efforts done right the first time.
In the business intelligence community this need exists and is expanded to more disparate persons. Often executives are asking for things directly to the actual geeks (the BI people). Fortunately, and maybe I shouldn’t admit it openly, BI is a pretty easy toolset and skill to learn. Often the hardest part to grasp is that there isn’t that much to grasp.
I’ve found that the hardest part is getting clear cut instructions on what end users (executives and managers) really and truthfully want. In addition to that it is often unclear what they even want to derive from the data they are going to get.
Now after all that said I pose a question and pondering. What other things, what other sources are out there, to help improve the soft skill of noticing and assuring people are hearing and understanding what is really being communicated?