Archive for October, 2009

Found in Translation… Communication between Techs and non-Techs

I found this post on how to speak to more technically savvy individuals to get what you want.  But I think communication between the more technically adept and those who are less is  a two way street.  I should preface this by saying… I am not a pure “Techie.” I sort of can figure out what is being said because I try to understand basic terminology and understand the context in which it is being used.

I still need to find a better way of describing these two groups that doesn’t sound like a division between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’  So for now I will say Techies and Non-Techies. It’s the best I can do right now… I’m not much of a wordsmith or a linguist :).

Here’s the abbreviated version of the tips for working with Techies:

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Put things in writing.
  3. Be clear on jargon.
  4. Continually check the context.
  5. Come clean about being confused.

Here’s my version of the list from the tech side’s point of view:

  1. Establish their goals and needs. Help re-translate and provide examples of things that already exist if possible –> For example: have a browser open and be able to link to or find existing solutions or examples for what they’re looking for.
  2. Document what they want. At the end of every meeting capture clear statements that describe what they are asking for. Make sure that they agree to the content and directives explained in these statements.  Also, leave yourself open to explaining things off-line or separately for those who don’t want to admit that they don’t know what you’re talking about.
  3. Define vocabulary or terms that may be unfamiliar whenever possible. Take some time to gauge whether or not they understand the terms being used, but don’t be condescending. In fact, preface initial meetings by saying, “Please feel comfortable about asking us to explain technical terms or items we are sharing if you don’t know what they are or are unclear about them…”
  4. Make sure they understand what can be done and can’t be done in the context or environment you’re working with or building for them.
  5. Look for signs that the audience may be confused about what you’re talking about. As you’re providing explanation, periodically do a check for understanding.

I have little patience with any sort of divisive talk that gets people away from accomplishing needed tasks.  For me the important thing is getting a well-defined set of goals accomplished in the work that needs to be done.

Pendant with "Techie" label


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