The art of communication - Sunrise Software

I haven’t got any empirical proof, but after working in IT for over 20 years my suspicion is that the majority of IT staff are introverts, so it’s time to introduce the art of communication.

IT workers tend to be quiet, reflective people, who like to think this over, and are not, generally, given to noisy and spontaneous outbursts.

I’ve done brainstorming with IT Teams before and it’s really hard work – certainly compared with marketing teams, for instance, where it’s hard to get a word in edgeways.

That isn’t to say that IT folk aren’t good at generating ideas; on the contrary. It’s just that they tend to be thought through first.

One of the criticisms often levelled at IT Departments is that they aren’t very good at communicating. I’m not sure that’s actually true, but I do think that IT Teams tend to rely too much on email communications. This, incidentally, would be typical of an introvert – using a medium like email means that you can think carefully about what you want to say, and you can compose it at your own leisure.

One of the things that I have learnt is that it’s very important to use a wide range of channels to communicate with people. Email is great for many things, but sometimes it is just better to pick up the phone and speak to somebody.

Meetings can be a pain, and as an IT Director I have to attend a lot of them, but there is a really good reason for having them; face-to face contact is still the best way of interacting with other people, especially when there are difficult or contentious issues to be discussed.

Video-conferencing has been around for years, and with almost universal broadband available you would think it would be commonplace, but still people travel to sit round a table with other people. I know that VC is used by many companies (and modern video-conferencing facilities are really very good), but it’s really not as widespread as it ought to be, and that’s because, I think, that the personal element is missing.

The point I’m getting at is that we in IT are actually quite good at communicating, but we don’t tend to communicate in the more personal way that many non-technical people prefer. We can create wonderfully clear and well-argued emails, or comprehensive bulletins with updates on all the work we have done, but I’m not convinced that these always get read. To really get your point across, there’s no substitute for face to face meetings.

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