I Don’t Get I.T.: Communication Skills

During my BSIT studies, I realized I was force-feeding myself loads of information to get through the courses and keep my 3.8 GPA.  As a result, my understanding of basic I.T. concepts went out of the window.  I could regurgitate plenty of information, but I couldn’t tell you the root of HOW or WHY.  So, I decided to blog about I.T. Basics.  My aim is to offer elementary-level backbone information a fourth-grader can understand, so anyone can build their tech knowledge.

Any questions, comments, concerns — feel free to comment.  I also take kindly to constructive criticism and if you have an I.T. question, ask away and perhaps you’ll see a future post about it!

One of the main reasons I’ve always been drawn to technology is seclusion – I would swear to you I am not a people person.  Many friends, family members, co-workers, and employers I’ve had would argue that. Apparently, I AM a people person, I just happen to wildly doubt my skills.  I fell into the I.T. field because I assumed that tech is the place to be if you want to make a living AND shy away from human interaction.

I was wrong.

Communication skills are essential in the tech community.  Not only do you need to properly communicate with your team, but clients are kinda a big deal, too.  Think about it – name an industry that 100% does not need an electronic device and/or application, now.  Think about businesses that are NOT tech-focused (think clothing, spas, outdoor goods) but rely on technology for marketing or sales, payroll or scheduling, inventory or customer communication.  Can businesses survive without technology?  Technically, yes.  Is that incredibly common or easy, now?  Not even a little. Many businesses that DO rely on technology in some shape or form eventually want to hire a techie to do the job – it’s difficult to keep up with everything that goes into running a business along with constant changes in technology. This was the other surprising part of I.T. for me: it is an incredibly broad field that can include tech support (Did you turn it off & on, again?), code, applications, hardware, soldering irons, install/uninstall, troubleshooting… basically, if a piece of technology is being used, you can bet I.T. covers it.

I would argue this goes double for remote workers – we seem to need to communicate more often with our teams/co-workers/employers because we aren’t physically there, so check-ins and a thorough recap of what we’ve been working on, discovered, need, finished, etc. has to be relayed in simple, yet detailed fashion.

When folks hear or read the word
C O M M U N I C A T I O N,
most gravitate to thoughts of face-to-face chats, sitting on the phone all day, or big meetings. Knock knock! Its 2019, babe. Lets fill in those blanks!

  • Phone
  • E-Mail
  • Chat/I.M.
  • Snail Mail
  • Fax
  • Meetings/Face-to-Face
  • Comments/Social Media Replies
  • Text/SMS
  • Documentation/Manuals
  • Oral Presentations/PowerPoint
  • Listening

In the future, we may be adding hologram performances to these lists, hah. Communication involves any way you pass information – it doesn’t just involve a coffee shop meeting. Some forms require quick and to-the-point statements, some forms team up with written skills, some involve briefing skills (i.e. speaking clearly, getting the information across as detailed yet to-the-point as possible), some involve typing quickly. For those of us who went into this field thinking we’ll be in a dark closet tinkering with paperclips and hard drives, SURPRISE!

And communication in the I.T. field can include interactions with:

  • Clients
  • Your team and other co-workers
  • Your boss
  • Networking Partners
  • Computers (yes, the computer itself)
  • Partnering Agencies
  • Students
  • Interns
  • The List Goes On…

In order to communicate with clients, you have to be able to comfortably chat with total strangers. Not all I.T. jobs entail this, but at some point in your I.T. career, its probable this skill will be used. You need to be able to clearly communicate what you are or aren’t capable of offering. You need to be able to hear their needs or concerns. I would argue, though, that the most important part of dealing with the clients includes those situations where their lack of education in the field can create a roadblock. Some don’t know simple solutions to simple problems; some become angry with you because they don’t understand the intricacies of technology and, therefore, assume their seemingly minor issue needs a minor fix; some make mistakes they think will fix an issue only to create a bigger issue – long story short, as an I.T. professional, you have to understand that you, too, are ignorant to other industries, so don’t be “That Guy” that spends their days knocking folks who went a different direction for their professional careers. I think a pride skill fits somewhere in here, eh? Remember – just because you’re a self-percieved expert in your own field, doesn’t mean you’re an expert in other fields. We can all stand to learn things.

Communicating with your team is probably more important than communicating with the client. At the end of the day, most clients just want something done/answered/fixed/added/etc. However, the team is what makes all of this technology possible, so ideas/corrections/day-to-day tasks/etc flying around the room need to be properly communicated so everyone knows precisely what’s going on. “The team” is a super generalized statement, though, because again – I.T. is a broad field. I don’t know, specifically, what your team looks like, is responsible for, or does on the daily. Also, I don’t know the specific culture of your office, but if you’re reading this because you’re curious about going into the I.T. field, be aware that just like any other office, each team finds their own vibes and the communication styles will differ from office to office and team to team. Finding your place in that vibe and meshing is crucial – the better the vibe, the better the communication between all parties involved. Ergo, the better the job performances.

There are other areas of I.T. where proper communication with your team can mean life or death. In some situations, the communication style in-demand exists because it is efficient for the environment – many factors can fit, here. For example, military personnel, in some jobs, are required to communicate in particular ways because it is the standard, probably because it is tried and true. Deviating from this communication style and standard lexicon could have grave consequences, even if they’re a POG sitting at a computer (wink wink, nudge nudge, that was me haha). Point being that sometimes a particular communication style is unwavering, and if you can’t or don’t want to fit the bill, that’s okay – choose a different area of I.T.

Not sure about your communication capabilities? Start a conversation in the comments!

Does your company handle communication in an innovative way? Let me know, below!

You also have to be able to communicate with your machine. The computer will only do or show what a human has asked it to do or show.

For example, in a research situation, you have to know the finesse of a good Google (or a Bing or whatever engine you use). Just typing in what you’re wanting to know sometimes won’t suffice. If I want to know Movie Tavern movie times in Greenville, then that should be simple. For one, I may have my location on and the Greenville I want may be near me and the information may immediately pop up. However, if I want to know how to properly download and install multiple Minecraft for Windows 10 mods and run them simultaneously, I need to know how to finesse that question so the engine can crawl through the vastness of the interwebs and give me the most relevant answers. This is actually a skill we are currently trying to teach our 8-year-old and yes, in I.T., we Google A LOT… as do programmers and basically anyone who doesn’t have every inch of their field completely memorized.

Furthermore, how do you use your machine to communicate? What is the best way to convey information that needs to be passed on if there is a large group of people and a brief in a conference room would be easier? How do you bundle a bunch of research to easily, yet thoroughly, explain a problem the team needs to tackle? Is there a telecom situation? What if you were told to post an item for sale on the company’s website or Facebook? Communication skills and decisions are not just on the phone or face-to-face.

Programmers not only communicate with their machine, but they also need to understand the language they’re using to properly communicate to the machine what they want it to do. Obviously, this isn’t directly the same as sending a human a text, BUT just like with humans, you have to understand what you’re trying to communicate, what you’re hoping the end result will be, what languages to use for a particular project, and proper documentation so others can work with you, as well. You also need to be able to explain to non-programmers what the heck your code is doing, whether or not something that needs to be implemented is a go or no-go… It’s a multi-faceted dragon, isn’t it?

In the end, though, I just wanna hang out with computers instead of humans, isn’t that enough?! :’D

Technology changes daily. The way we communicate changes daily, thanks to technology. Keeping up with the changes is one of the many challenges of being in the tech field, as a whole. You don’t always have to be up-to-date on the latest trends, but a well-communicated conversation can go a long way.

It is all about finding (or creating) a company that fits the culture you’re looking for!

Choose your jobs wisely, people!

Tech Tip:

Did you know that you can schedule text messages with the built-in Android SMS app? Simply type up what you want to say, tap the three dots in the upper right-hand corner, and tap Schedule Message. Choose a time and date, and then tap the Send button that now has a tiny clock!

Images Source: Click Here! and Here! and Here!

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