As you pursue a degree in information technology, you’ll gain a solid foundation of knowledge in web development, coding, database design and debugging—and all of the other topics you’ll need for a lucrative career on the cutting-edge of the tech industry.
One aspect of the tech industry that’s often overlooked is the need for interpersonal or “soft” skills. Long gone are the days in which the stereotypical computer programmer led a solitary work life. Today, you’re more likely to find tech professionals keeping in constant contact with each other, collaborating and inspiring others on their teams.
Take a minute to close your eyes and form a mental image of the word “communication.” There’s a good chance you just saw yourself talking to someone else. But in order to communicate your own thoughts effectively, you must first be a good listener. To be an active listener means to set aside multitasking and other distractions. Actively process the information you’re receiving, rather than merely hearing the words. If you aren’t completely sure what the speaker is trying to say, repeat it back to him or her. Say, “I just want to make sure I’m hearing you right. You’re saying that…” By practicing active listening skills, you’ll quickly gain a reputation in the workplace as someone who is receptive, approachable and open-minded.
Effective communication in a tech workplace requires a commitment to professionalism and respect for others at all times. Even if you disagree with a team member, you can find a way to work together harmoniously. Ask questions for clarification to get a better idea of why your co-worker takes a differing view of the issue at hand. Before presenting your own perspective, say something to acknowledge the validity of your co-worker’s viewpoint, such as “I hear you, and I respect where you’re coming from, but I also think that…”
To be a true team player, you’ll need to adopt the give and take nature of collaboration. Team members should feel comfortable approaching one another when they need clarification or a brainstorming session—or if they simply need to talk through a problem. As someone with strong interpersonal skills, you won’t hesitate to help out your team members and they’ll be willing to lend a hand when you need it.
Written communication skills are just as important for tech professionals as spoken communication skills. Before hitting “send” on an email, take a minute to reread it and consider whether the tone is professional and the word choice is respectful. Be wary of vague written language, as it can be misinterpreted by the reader.
The language you’ll use to communicate with fellow tech specialists and non-tech employees at your workplace should be different. If you need to explain a technical concept to a non-tech employee, try to avoid using confusing buzzwords or complex jargon. Break it down into simple terms and, if possible, offer concrete examples to help improve your co-worker’s understanding.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.