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How To Navigate Communication Problems - Listener Question from Enrico

Published 10/23/2017

In today's episode, Enrico asks about how to navigate situations where other people don't seem to understand him.

Today's episode is sponsored by Fuse! Build native iOS and Android apps with less code and better collaboration. Head over to spec.fm/fuse to learn more today!

New Promo Code: “dt” will give you listeners 70% off for 12 months. 70%!!! The code must be redeemed by December 31st 2017.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Why is it that sometimes no one seems to understand what I'm saying? That's what we're talking about on today's episode of Developer Tea. If you're a developer, especially if you've worked with other people on highly technical projects and those other people are not highly technically skilled, then you've probably seen this disparity before. This is actually a listener question that came in from Enrico. I'm going to read the question now. Enrico says, thanks for the great podcast. I only discovered it recently, so I may have missed an episode about this topic, but I've noticed a big roadblock in my career. People are not able to understand me. I'm not even able to explain even the simplest concept or my thoughts. This often leads me to situations where I'm not really listening to the other person because I get upset that they aren't understanding what I'm saying. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this? Well Enrico, first of all, thank you for listening, and thank you for sending in a question. You know, I want to address something real quick. If you haven't been listening to this show, you do not have to listen to every single episode or search the back catalog. If you want to reach out to me, it's totally fine if you're a brand new listener or if you've only listened to 5% or 0% of this show, there's no expectation on you as a listener to put in the time before you reach out to me. I love hearing from listeners like Enrico. So thank you for reaching out Enrico and having the courage and the bravery to deal with this kind of subject. This is not an easy thing to deal with because it makes a self-conv conscious when we can't seem to get through to other people. At least it makes me self-conscious. Some people see this as everyone else's problem, but the reality is we can only control ourselves. And that's an important reality for today's discussion because we're not going to talk about why everyone else can't seem to understand us. Instead, we're going to talk about ways that we can set ourselves up for success on the subject. I have three basic tips. There are some episodes in the back catalog dealing with communication. I recommend Enrico and everyone else who's dealing with similar problems. You go and listen to these. One of them is an episode about metaphors. We talk about metaphors on the show quite a bit, but there is an episode that's dedicated to it. As well as the more recent episodes, we talked about the developer career roadmap, traits of a great developer. And there's one where we talk about Exodus 2, where we talk about communications models, becoming an expert in communications. So Enrico, you are heading down the correct path. This is such an important thing for Developer To learn how to do, to learn how to communicate. And it's not just something to take lightly. So I'm glad that you reached out and hopefully we can help you out a little bit in today's episode. So in today's episode, we're going to discuss three ways, three things that Enrico can do and other people like Enrico can do to help get you headed down the right path. But before we get started, I want to recenter part of the conversation. Enrico, you mentioned that you get really frustrated or that you have the tendency to not listen to other people because they can't understand what you're saying. And here's the reality. What other people do and what other people are saying to you, if you allow it to get under your skin, especially if you're doing the right things, right? If you're doing what you believe to be the correct things, if you allowed that frustration to mount, then that's not going to help your efforts. And Enrico, you might say, well, of course, of course my frustration doesn't help my efforts. It's something that I'm experiencing. But what I want you to do is allow those pieces of feedback or those experiences to teach you rather than frustrate you, right? Allow those to become a learning opportunity rather than, you know, a moment to focus on the failure. And what this is going to do is it's going to give you an opportunity to respond to that person's misunderstanding. It's going to give you the opportunity to say, hey, you know, I really do wish that I could communicate this idea better. What parts are you not understanding? So I just want to help set the mindset there, you know, approaching this from the perspective of you can only do what you can do. You cannot force someone to understand you Enrico. I cannot force someone to understand me. So recognize that sometimes your communication efforts, if they're not understood by another person, it may be a very little fault of your own, right? And being frustrated is not going to help out. So next time you get frustrated, do the best that you can to convert that frustration into energy where you can learn from it, right? I always view it as a learning opportunity. So that's the mindset that we want to enter into. But I had this epiphany recently and this is this is the first kind of way that I want you to approach this problem Enrico. This first thing that I want you to do is actually another mindset shift. Okay? And all of this is about mindset because once you've set up your thinking process is once you've set up the way that you think about this problem correctly, then the rest of it becomes more about executing, right? But you can't execute well on communication without having the right mindset. So this this first way that I want you to shift your mind and shift the way you're thinking is actually related to something that I had an epiphany about recently. So often when I discuss an idea, especially when it's a technical idea, I have the tendency to want to explain every detail to the person that's listening, right? So this is, you know, I call this my thesis problem. I want to lay out a full and detailed explanation. I want to construct the entire idea from the ground up. And there's probably other developers who can identify with this that you don't want to leave any stone on turns. You want to actually cover every point that you can so that there's no misunderstanding in that as the person leaves that conversation that they have everything they need. And they now have the knowledge that you have in your brain, you've kind of transferred it. It's like a copy paste operation almost. And unfortunately, this isn't how people's brains work. And I want people to understand it to the level that I understand it. But the problem is that usually whatever I'm trying to explain, it's really taken me much longer than a single conversation to understand. And often it has taken me quite a lot of study and some pre-existing knowledge, for example, that I was building on to understand it. And that's not to say that I have a superior understanding of some vast number of subjects, but rather that I try to communicate all of that in one sitting. And that's a problem. Now, it's not a problem in motivation. It's not a problem that I want people to, you know, get all of that value. In fact, that seems to be actually a pretty positive thing to want, right? I want you to leave with as much knowledge as possible from this conversation. The problem is that I'm approaching it from the perspective of me being in control of what that person is receiving. So when you're communicating with another person, especially when you're discussing a technical or otherwise intricate subject, it's important to always focus on the other person's perspective and understanding. Let me say that again. When you're communicating to anyone about any subject, and especially with technical subjects, the most important factor in that communications exchange is that the person on the other end is hearing what you have to say. So think of it this way. I would rather the person that I'm talking to, walk away with a 10% understanding than for me to explain everything perfectly from my perspective, and then walk away with a 0% understanding. I would rather than get something out of it and me not cover every base, then then get nothing out of it and me cover every base perfectly. So the only way for this to happen is for you to communicate in a way that the other person understands it. This is why things like metaphors are so powerful. This is why things like communications models and understanding the feedback loop that's so important. Because if you can't understand why the other person isn't receiving the message, then you don't understand how to reformat, re-craft what you're saying so that they will understand it. So during the conversation, and perhaps even before, if it's an important conversation, try to envision the way that the other person is receiving it. Try to understand where they're coming from, what their existing knowledge set is, some of the domains that they understand, so if you can find some common ground with them, then maybe you can translate through those other domains. That's what the metaphor does. It allows you to translate an idea into a common format that another person can understand. If you're communicating with another person and you're not thinking about the way that they're going to receive it, you're not thinking about their pre-existing knowledge, you're not thinking about their motivations or the way they think, the things they care about. If you're not thinking about those things, then you're going to have a hard time communicating in a way that leaves them with the understanding that you're trying to provide for them. So that's step number one. And really, this is more about empathy than it is about anything else, understanding where the other person is coming from so that you can craft a message they will understand. And we have two more ways that you can better your communication. We're going to talk about those right after we talk about today's sponsor, Fuse. With Fuse, you can build native iOS and Android apps with less code and better collaboration. 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Fuse is celebrating the fact that they are no longer in beta. Fuse 1.0 is launched, they also have Fuse Studio, their new premium editor and workspace for working with Fuse projects. That's included with the professional plan. This is also a new thing for Fuse. The professional plan includes, amongst other things, a powerful UX kit which allows you to do things like easy charting and it has camera components that allow you to draw on and add stickers, for example, to a live camera feed. The Fuse professional plan also allows you to integrate Fuse into existing projects in Xcode and Android Studio if you want to use Fuse inside existing native app projects. But here's the thing, you can get started with Fuse for free and get up and running today by going to FuseTools.com slash plants. Now on top of that, if you use the code DT, just the letters DT, it's a very short code should be easy to remember. Head over to FuseTools.com slash plants, use the code DT, you will get 70% off, 70% off, not 7%, 70% off for 12 months. Now these codes must be redeemed by December 31st of 2017. Go and check it out, FuseTools.com slash plants. Thanks so much to Fuse for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. Enrico, I have two more tips, ways that you can improve your communication, ways that I have used in the past to improve my communication. The first one is meet with someone you know and discuss ideas with them. This sounds really broad, but you can make it concrete, maybe set up a recurring meeting, a breakfast or a lunch with them, even if it's just coffee or hanging out at the office, something that you can depend on and make that meeting about discussing ideas. Don't try to come and talk about communication, instead talk about something like a book you're reading or you can even discuss ideas you hear on Developer Tea. And this will allow you to develop those communication skills. Now I would recommend that you don't start with technical ideas that eventually as your communication skills build, that you then move into technical ideas. Now it's important that you do this with someone you trust and someone who has a relationship that's good enough with you, that they can provide you candid feedback on how well you are communicating with them. It's important to get this feedback so you can have actionable advice and actionable issues that you can work on given to you immediately after they occur. Right? So the average person is not going to give you this kind of feedback, but a good friend or someone who you know you're engaging with specifically for this reason, you can ask them to provide you that kind of feedback. They might, for example, say, it seems like you're talking a little bit fast, or you might be getting ahead of yourself, or I'm not really sure what you mean by this word or that word. There may be multiple very simple things that you can do to improve your communication when you're talking. And Enrico, the final way that you can better your communication. And this is a tough one because it's probably this scariest or the most demanding, but that is to practice it through writing and public speaking. You can consider taking an online course or even auditing a course at a local university. Most universities have public speaking courses and you can receive some very basic kind of direction on how to communicate well to a group of people. And even how to communicate well one-on-one. So this is going to force you to refine your skills. It's going to force you to understand your own message well enough to craft that message for other people. Now, you don't have to take a course. You may do something like, for example, what I did, which is start a podcast. You could start by refining your writing and then wrapping some of your speaking skills around that same refinement process. There's a lot of things that you can do, but the most important thing as with anything else is that you practice this. These last two points are number one, practice it one-on-one with someone you know. And number two, practice it in a more public forum. This again is going to force you to refine your skills. It's going to give you more of a iteration process rather than you being in the situation where you really need to communicate an idea that the stakes are high. Instead, put yourself in an opportunity where the stakes are much lower. This allows you to fail without having significant negative consequences. And it allows you to learn in a much better way. Enrico, the last little tiny bit of advice that I'll give you, and I've never talked to you in person, so I'm not sure if this is an issue for you, but the last piece of advice that I'll give you is to slow down. Take a minute and say the words that you mean to say. Too often when people are trying to communicate, they'll get ahead of themselves, like I just did. That's a perfect example. They'll stumble on their words or perhaps they'll say something faster than they meant to say it. They'll say words that really didn't communicate the idea that they were trying to communicate. And ultimately, they don't go back and fix them. The other person ends up being confused. The communication process breaks down because the person didn't take the time to compose themselves. And this is going to allow you to approach a conversation more peacefully and more mindfully. So take a step back, slow down, and allow yourself the space to say what you mean to say. This gives you time to think. It gives you time to process the reaction of your audience. It gives you time to create the message that you want to create. Enrico, thank you so much for listening. And thank you to everyone else who's listening to today's episode. I hope this has provided some value and some practical and also high-level advice for those of you who struggle a little bit with communicating your ideas. Perhaps the most important takeaway here in today's episode is to focus on communicating to the person so that they take something away. Don't focus on getting your message perfect and covering every base, but rather focus on the outcome. If the other person who's listening to you doesn't get any value out of it, then it doesn't matter how detailed or how how effective your metaphors were. If the other person doesn't take anything away from that conversation, then it becomes pretty much useless. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you again to Enrico for sending in a question. Of course, you can send in a question at any time to Developer Tea at gmail.com. I invite all of you to send in questions, thoughts, feedback, anything that you have. Of course, leaving a review in iTunes, I haven't mentioned that in quite a while, but leaving a review in iTunes helps other developers like you find Developer Tea and get value out of it, like hopefully you have. So go and leave a review. Let me know what you think about this show. Thanks again to Fuse for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. You can get started with the next generation of native mobile application development software by heading a refuse tools.com plans. Make sure you use the code DT for 70% off. Thanks again to Fuse. Thank you so much for listening. Make sure you subscribe and whatever podcasting app you use. And until next time, enjoy your tea.