Monday, April 30, 2007

Communication Barriers

I think that we are the most skillful people to achieve a team work. I thought that the majority of us have been working in teams since their first academic year, and for me, this was good reason to justify my theory.
Ironically, I am totally convinced with my theory, while all other careers look to developers as freaks. Well, I show up hands to agree with this. My theory isn't precise...I should add "teams of developers". At least the freaks can understand each other :)

Team chit chat
It should be curious that our teams may still have problems in communication. I got some remarks from my partners, through the projects, concerning my communication success with them.
The big majority confirmed that:
  1. I have a problem in transferring my knowledge to them.
  2. I am "expression-less", so that someone asked me to put a sign indicating my mood whether "I am sad" or "I am happy".
The 2nd point is little bit tough. The 1st point can be analyzed and managed.
It was normal that I spend time thinking about how much people think that I have deficiencies in transferring my knowledge and my talk skills. At the beginning I was trying to evaluate myself and think how can I overcome my problems.
hence, whenever someone asks me about anything, I make a flash back to the days when I was still learning that thing, memorize all the questions I got at that time, and then start my brief session.
I worked on this thinking that I am overcoming my problems with partners. But I was totally wrong.
one day, I was making a brief introduction to my partner, he shouted "Fizo, I really don't get you, your explanation is really vague....Why don't you make a flash back to the days when you started to learn this thing and explain to me based on the question you got in your head?"
"huh...?" That what I am doing all the time.

Again, there should be something wrong...This time I thought about it in more abstract way.

Evaluation Barrier
My partner's comment made me notice a small problem...
It's the "Tendency to Evaluate", this is a human nature, the first reaction of a statement is to evaluate it from "your" point of view. It's a tendency to judge, approve/disapprove person's statement. What was really happening is that my explanation was evaluated by my partner more than listening with understanding.

Listening with Understanding
You should achieve real communication by avoiding evaluative tendency. This means seeing the attitude from the other person's point of view, touch his/her frame of reference about the subject.
I see that I should answer question, in the contest I can do it. Some efforts should be done by the questioner to get and understand the whole picture. In practical life we are not open books, my head is not indexed like the book, I have no appendices pointing to keywords which the questioner look for.
What will happen when you listen to my answer and analyze it to get your satisfactory answer? Does this sound absurdly simple??
Actually "listening" is not widely used. There are a lot of reasons in my opinion to avoid the "listening" thing.
  1. Most of us have a defensive attitude when it comes to opinions' discussions. We are afraid to get affected and changed by what we hear. Weird, isn't it?
  2. Emotions, in some discussions emotions become strongest, so they forbid us from achieving the frame of reference of the others. (let's not focus on this right now, as we are more involved with technical discussions)
I don't think I am saying something new. What the entry includes is very obvious for all of us, "the importance of listening"...But the fact, is, the problem has endured because it is a basic truth about human interaction.

1 comment:

mahmoud said...

Confucius, an ancient Chinese thinker and social philosopher, once said "If I bring up one corner, and those to whom i am speaking cannot come back with the other three, i don't talk to them anymore"..

conversations, specially knowledge transfer, should be interactive. It is the role of all participants to make it successful and useful.

you might have started the conversation in a manner that is not clear to the other participant, which lead him to lose focus in the conversation itself and start evaluating the way you express your knowledge. reaching that stage, the conversation is useless.. just a waste of time and effort.. and should be stopped immediately.

inside a team, this should be communicated with no embarrassment or hesitation. the goal and success of the team is the main focus. everything should be understandable. there should be no politics inside teams..