(bright music) - Sometimes some of the hardest communication is one-on-one. How many times have you been introduced to someone and before you've even finished shaking their hands you've forgotten their name, a common problem. My best suggestion on improving those one-on-one communication skills, or could be even unwritten I guess, is to fully think about what the other person is saying.
Put all your attention to them instead of thinking about what you're going to say next. So you're introduced to Margret. And Margret tells you that she just got back from a vacation in Hawaii. And instead of thinking about, well I'm gonna tell her about my vacation, the response should be, "Oh, really, Hawaii. What was the favorite thing that you did there?" That will build a connect with Margaret and it tells her that she's important.
That will begin to develop that relationship, because you can't have good communication skills if you haven't developed some kind of relationship with a person. - What I've noticed is my ability to communicate, my ability to empathize, not just with the end user, but with the rest of my team, is not only a valuable skill, it's a very rare skill. I have worked with many teams that are very highly qualified.
However, that room's ability to get the message across to the business owner, to the stakeholder, the non-technical person in the room, I've noticed that's where it falls short. And so I am very grateful that I went to theater school. I am very grateful that I have a BFA in Theater and Performance, because that skill set is very rare in my experience. And that puts me in a very great position to act as a bridge between the technical end and the non-technical end.
What an amazing thing to be able to sit there in the room and be able to talk to both sides of the table. Very rare. - Until you somehow confront some of these challenges, until you have the courage to tackle it, you will never get better. So what I've realized, through my own struggle, is the fact that, the best way to somehow get better, or best way to improve yourself is by, really, tackling your problem, whatever that problem is at the moment, directly.
- The other big thing is you really have to challenge yourself in a couple of ways. For me that was getting up on stage in front of people. In the early 2000s I had the opportunity to do some Microsoft Dev Days presentations. And I would do just a single presentation on a technology I enjoyed. The first ones were created by somebody else. They'd already created the demos and the slides and everything. Over the years built that up to the point where I was out presenting to hundreds of people at a time.
I stepped out of my comfort zone in giving those presentations, but did it in a planful way, and then was able to take feedback. That's the other big thing. I think you have to be comfortable listening to feedback about your speaking style, your communication style, whether you're up on a stage, or if you're in a boardroom, or a meeting room and having conversations with people. Being able to listen to feedback about how you interact with people is critical. - Learning how to be empathetic is key to actually teaching.
An so when you've been working for a while you tend to forget what people don't know, because you are so used to it that to you it feels like common knowledge. And so when you're teaching web development or any sort of technical topic, or probably just teaching in general, you sort of have to remember what it's like to not know any of it. You can't really assume what common knowledge might be. You have to just be careful to not teach with this sort of air of expectations, superiority of, oh you don't know what that means? And so I think that that can happen a lot when teaching technical topics.
It's often explained in ways that are more technical than it needs to be. And so trying to figure out how to convey these messages in more of an everyday language is a skill that you have to learn if you want to get into education. And so, I think for me, maybe my psychology and communications degree has kinda come full circle and has helped me out now that I've gotten into teaching. (bright music)