My most important software development language is English – Communication skills carry more weight than coding skills

As is the case with most software developers that reach the professional level, my first coding language was the most difficult to learn. I struggled with algorithms, syntax, references, namespaces, classes, and so forth and so on. Once I grasped these concepts, however, the second language was about five times easier to pick up. And the next one was half as difficult as that, etc. Now, learning a new language is as straightforward as seeking out the idiosyncratic differences between it and all of the ones I already have under my belt.

However, as my career has progressed, I have noticed that the most important language I use is the one that I speak.

When I was in high school and college, writing essays was an exercise of spending an entire night, 15 minutes per sentence, structuring words precisely how I wanted them to be in order to get my point across. I used no draft system, and no revisions were made once I completed the closing sentence. This method was useful practice for today, because now I don’t have the luxury of hours upon hours of time to devote to crafting arguments and explaining opinions, and therefore I find that the right words must flow forth more quickly than ever.

This applies to all communication, whether it be with developers, project managers, salespeople, or customers; all of these groups need the correct answers quickly, and I do not often have time to break things down more than once. It is in this regard that teaching skills play a big part in my job; I need to tailor my message specifically for the audience to which it is addressed. Also, going right along with this, I need to know how to organize my points in a manner that connects most appropriately to the given audience.

This is also why I use the whiteboard more than anyone else I know; if I can present ideas in two ways simultaneously instead of just one (that is, verbally as well as visually), I double my chances that a point is understood correctly. This helps in multiple ways:

  1. I spend less time explaining and more time moving on to the next point.
  2. My audience stays engaged, as I can address the needs to both auditory and visual learners simultaneously.

Now, if only I could code with my mouth…

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