Although we work hard to understand how to talk to computers, some of the most important conversations happen between people. In this video, you’ll learn about some important communication skills.
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As an IT professional, we’re very accustomed to working with electronic components. But it turns out one of the most viable skills we can have is the ability to communicate with another human being. This is, admittedly, one of the most difficult skills to master. But the better you are at communicating with many different people, the better you’ll be at troubleshooting and solving different problems.
This is also a skill that you’ll be able to take anywhere regardless of what you do. And if you’re able to communicate better, you’ll find that you’re able to work better, no matter what environment you’re put in.
We’re often communicating with people who are not computer professionals, so they have no idea what a SATA drive is. They don’t understand what an HDMI connection looks like. Or they don’t know why it’s important to have a lot of RAM and a fast CPU. If you’re communicating with somebody, you want to be sure to avoid these three-letter acronyms or this jargon so that you’re able to talk more plainly about what you’re trying to accomplish in this particular instance. You need to be the person that’s able to take these technical terms and translate them into something that anyone can understand.
It’s very common that people who are not technically knowledgeable make decisions about the technology you’re using. So the better you can translate this information, the better they’ll be able to make their decisions.
Fortunately, this kind of problem is one that’s easily avoided. The better translator you are, the better everyone will be able to communicate.
Another important skill to have in communication is one where you avoid doing any type of interrupting. We very often want to jump in with an answer so that we can fix the problem quickly or show someone how smart we might be with solving this particular problem. But the issue is that we sometimes will be interrupting before we get a key piece of information. This is why you want to be able to listen to what people may be telling you.
You first want to be able to build a relationship with someone, because they may be coming back to your solve problems in the future. And you want to be sure they’re able to describe everything about what they’re seeing with a problem. That way, you’re able to gather as much information as possible, which might help you solve these problems a little bit faster.
These listening skills can be especially useful on the phone, because you don’t have those visual cues to give you an idea of what someone may be thinking.
These listening skills take time to develop, so you want to work on them every time you’re communicating with someone. You’ll find that after a while, you not only have a better relationship with people, but you’re able to solve their problems faster, as well.
One way to work on these listening skills is to ask plenty of questions. When somebody’s explaining when a problem might be occurring on their computer, you might want to continue to drill down into more and more details. You’re not looking for an argument. You’re really looking to understand more about what someone is seeing or experiencing when they’re having these problems.
Once they’ve provided you with this information, make sure you repeat back to them everything that you understood about what they told you. That way, they’re able to make some clarifying statements about things they may have said. And now, they also know that you understand exactly what their problem happens to be.
It’s important to keep an open mind during this process so that you can gather as much information as possible. You want to keep asking clarifying questions so that you can really drill down into all of the details.
After listening and understanding what a person’s problems might be, it’s now time for you to set some expectations on what you might be doing to help them. You should set time frames and costs for repairing this particular problem, and also let them know that if you’re not able to repair them, what the time frames and costs might be to replace a particular component.
It’s also useful to document these things. You can tell somebody in person this information. But it’s also useful to follow up with an email so that everybody understands exactly what these time frames and costs might be.
Sometimes a particular problem may take an extended period of time to resolve. Sometimes you have to order new parts, and there’s a delay as things are shipped in. During this delay, you want to be sure to always communicate back with the end user, and let them know the status of where this particular problem might be.
And after you’ve handed a working system back to someone, your job isn’t over yet. You still need to follow up a day or two later and make sure that everything is working exactly as expected.