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:
- I spend less time explaining and more time moving on to the next point.
- 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…