Knowledge work is communication

Knowledge work is communication

[00:00:00] **Aurooba Ahmed:** Well hello, this is The Daily Five with Aurooba. That's me, where we reflect on creating our best lives a little bit every day. Here we go.

[00:00:15] I have been pondering a question I was asked the other day. So because of that, and a few other random reasons, I found myself deep diving on a thread on Hacker News on Agile development, and that led me to a deep dive on a Reddit thread about Just In Time development. And, as it usually is with me, I found myself formulating ideas on an entirely different topic.

[00:00:44] Although, of course, in my own mind, I can follow the thread exactly on why one topic led me to another. And here's where I arrived at, after wandering the path of many topics, attending a dinner party, watching the movie Dungeons and Dragons yet again, and then considering the merits of elemental magic in various fantasy worlds with a family member.

[00:01:07] If you're a knowledge worker of some kind or someone who works in the digital or tech world, your primary job is communication. It is not whatever your title is. It's communication. You could be excellent at the thing that is your title, but if you suck at communication, you will eventually find yourself at a disadvantage compared to other people who are good at communication.

[00:01:34] I think communication may be even more important than, say, being a team player, although on that topic. Do not get me started on the idea that there are lone wolves who prefer to work alone, because that's just about as large a fallacy as the idea that anyone is self taught except for perhaps Tarzan. And even he had the gorillas to help him, so, you know what, he wasn't self taught either.

[00:02:02] This seems to have become a recurring theme in this season. You know, at least in this last third quarter of the season, I have talked about communication in some way, shape, or form for at least four other episodes, I think, already.

[00:02:17] You know, in high school, they always said that the quote unquote soft skills, communication, writing, problem solving, really life skills, were more important for success than anything else. And I think it's possible, maybe, that if you're one of the really rare people in the world who are just mind blowingly gifted at something, you don't need those other skills to succeed. And, you know, even then I highly question that.

[00:02:49] But I don't know that I really so deeply realized how vital communication is until just these past few months as I found myself embedded in a permanent and proper team for the first time. Even client communication and working with, let's say, a team for a year or something did not drive this point home as well.

[00:03:11] I often attribute the success of my romantic relationship to communication as well, but you know, I've seen plenty of partnerships that don't communicate as well as we do, and they're fine, perhaps even more than fine. So that didn't either drive the importance of communication home as much as being in this permanent team has.

[00:03:32] So what's the question that I was asked? The question I was asked the other day Is what is the single most important thing I can work on to become a better developer?

[00:03:42] And so this is my answer. Learn how to communicate well how to communicate to your stakeholders, your peers, your mentees, your managers. Learn how to communicate up, at your level, and down, kind of. Learn when to filter and when not to and how to speak to your audience in a way that will make sense to them. And learn how to paint a picture with your words.

[00:04:09] The better you are as a communicator, the better and clearer your thinking will be. And the clearer your thinking is, the better your work will be too. But if your work is excellent and your communication is unclear, then eventually that will catch up to you and it will hurt you.

[00:04:24] Not that I'm saying you shouldn't practice coding or figuring out technical architecture and all that, because that's important too. But you'll probably be forced to do those things by your circumstances. So if I have to pick one thing to actively focus on, to push myself at, to get better at, it would be communication.

[00:04:44] Clear communication.

[00:04:46] You know, there's other kinds of communication. You can focus on persuasion, speeches, etc. It all starts with clarity. So the number one thing you should work on to become a better developer, but this technically applies to any knowledge worker, but I don't know, maybe it's because I'm a developer, but this seems to be really lacking in developers.

[00:05:08] If you want to become a better developer, become a better communicator. Full stop. Focus on that. Everything else, you can figure it out. But communication, work on that actively.

[00:05:25] Thanks for listening. Same time tomorrow?