Seeing through their eyes

2022-10-28

Earlier this week, I was watching a Youtube Short on Character Designs in Pokemon. Something struck me about how the creator was discussing the characters. I felt like I could easily understand him, and that I was getting a glimpse at the world through his eyes.

This got me thinking about my own work. I wonder whether the people who work with me ever get that same sensation. I suspect I could improve in that department. Effective communication is a key challenge in software development. Without using specialist language, it can be difficult to explain the software to your Product Owner or your QA.

Specialist language almost always impedes communication between people from different professional backgrounds. So if I want to effectively collaborate with my team, I need to use language they can understand. In the Effective Executive, Drucker points out that it is the specialist's job to find ways to communicate sensibly with others. Anything else would be madness. I wouldn't expect to understand all the technical terms that a Doctor might use when describing my medical condition. I don't understand the metabolic activities which might impact it. What is more, that doctor would be doing me a disservice if he demanded we only converse in that language!

To become effective, we engineers should take some time to consider the words we use. Not all words are equally helpful in sharing our perspective with our team. But take a moment and go back to that Youtube short. Pay attention to the language he is using. None of his words are from a specialist language. He is talking in the common tongue. He uses words like 'clunky' or 'cool' to describe his judgment of the character design. And he explains why that was his opinion in simple terms too.

In truth, this short had given me a lot to think about. I'll be looking for more ways to improve my communication by using common words. By improving the ease of understanding for my audience, my own effectiveness can increase!