The most underrated skill for a developer: Communication

11 Aug, 2018

Communication or to be precise, the ability to manage customer expectations is a very important skill needed to make someone a good developer. Given two developers with the same technical competence, the one who would fare better would be the one who could communicate clearly with customers.

Customer expectations can be better understood and managed if the developer understands the intent of the communication that the customer makes. This may help the developer meet not only the customer’s stated but also his implied needs. This very two way communication would at times help the coder percieve future requirements that would help deliver products that exceed customer expectations and help company to leverage its products to similar modules thus saving time and resources, that would add positively to the balance sheet.

Usually, the customers in the market have no or very less knowledge of the inner workings or details of a product and are just interested in the end results. Hence, when it takes longer than what they expect it’s hard for them to understand what is going on, how is it happening and why? A developer who can communicate with a customer can assure and reassure them while letting them know how much they can deliver in what amount of time. This helps go a long way in improving the trust and bond between the two parties.

Most of the developers are people who like to hide behind their comfort veil: the screen. They take a job, finish it quietly and return the results without having to step out in the open with actual eyes on them and their work. In the past, this seems to have worked out well for almost all of the developers but now in this growing age of technology and shrinking age of patience, customers and managers alike have started demanding answers, putting more pressure and wanting faster results. This means that the need to be able to communicate with the customer efficiently has increased. Communication has become key to the growth of a developer.

It isn’t just the verbal communication with the customers, but also the written communication that is a vital skill. The comments in the code, proper documentation of the projects and even spellings. Basically, everything that involves the use of a language. The comments in the code are used for understanding the code and it is necessary that it be in more plain communication language than in code. The documentation will be used by the testers to debug and improve the code in the years to come and hence it is also of paramount importance that it is in proper order and not complicated for them to understand.

Whether you are a freelancer or a company employee it is inevitable to write emails. It can be a gateway to demonstrating how valuable you are to other people. Writing still is the de facto in business communication. Mastering the skill of written communication can go a long way. It has the ability to make or break a developer’s career.

Working in groups or parts has become the more efficient way of working in today’s times where each individual does his/her part according to their expertise and the rest is continued by the next individual. In such situations, if a person doesn’t understand the prior developers work, it can cause a lot of chaos. Hence, learning and teaching are how the work moves between each level. In every company, there is a shared knowledge pool. Every developer contributes their experience and perspective to this pool.

Good communication skills are as important as the art of writing code itself. One can see communication skills starting to become one of the top soft skills required in job recruitments. So I guess it is time for all the developers to start stepping out of their comfort zones and hone their communication skills in order to survive in this ever-changing, competitive world because if you can’t make a mark, then you’ve already lost.