Being a great IT professional isn’t enough to be successful these days. Because clients are more demanding, communication more confusing and modes of communication more numerous, to really excel you need to be a master of communication.
Let’s look at the five top communication tips for IT professionals.
Tech Talk Translation
Being an expert means that you speak a language that sometimes only you and your colleagues understand. To a client, nothing is more frustrating than feeling that they are too stupid to really understand the solution the IT professional is talking about.
The first step is to remove jargon, acronyms and “tech talk” from your explanations. Generally, this will make your message more easily understood. If that doesn’t work, try using metaphors to ground your explanation to what the listener already understands.
Always explain things so that the listener feels “smart.”
You most likely hear the same issues discussed over and over again during the course of a week —and maybe even more on a bad day. When this happens, you tend to stop listening closely. Why bother? You figure that you already know how to solve the problem.
When you stop listening closely two major problems can arise. First, though you may frequently deal with this particular issue, it may be the first time for the person who is speaking with you. Since they lack the experience and expertise that you provide, they may also be more concerned and even alarmed about the situation.
Secondly, by not listening carefully, you may miss an important point and possibly waste everyone’s time because you didn’t have a complete picture or missed a critical detail.
All of us have a communication style. We may prefer quick conversations spoken like bullet points, or maybe we’d rather slow down and ask for time to process before answering. It is easy to communicate when our styles match. It is much harder when our styles don’t.
When styles don’t match the best practice is something I call “chameleon communication”: figuring out the difference in styles to find a way to minimize those differences. You will find that communication will be easier and more productive.
Building trust and rapport
Your job requires that your clients trust you. A big part of building trust is doing what you say you will do. Always follow a promise with a time certain date when you’ll get back to your client. State things with confidence and credibility, and always communicate to the other person how they will benefit from what you are doing.
Using the correct communication vehicle
Email is quick and easy, while text is even faster. Great! The problem is that email and text are not always the best way to communicate.
When we are only using the written word, the receiver can miss a great deal of context. Context can be enhanced by tone of voice and visual cues such as facial expressions and body language.
If there is any misunderstanding, consider changing your communication vehicle. If you have to write more than two emails to explain something, you probably need to add tone of voice or body language to communicate effectively. If there is a complaint or bad news, at the very least pick up the phone or meet in person.
Working on these five best practices will help you become a great communicator.