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Is Tech-Talk
Stalling Your Career?
By Debbie Christofferson, CISSP, CISM

Your communication may be holding you back.

In a July Computerworld article on hot skills, the most sought-after IT workers of 2010, were projected as those with no deep-seated technical skills.

You will still need technical skills, but you will have to know the business, add value, and build relationships inside and outside group. Strong communication will be critical.

Creating Career Success

In a workshop on web and business success strategies, a peer business owner stated that, “IT stands for “Idiot Techies”. He meant it.

The availability of good technical support was cited as a business inhibitor. A lack of common ground in communication was a contributing factor in this person’s negative experience.

When clients, peers and senior management don’t understand you, your career and business will suffer, with lost salary increases, promotions, opportunities and sales. Communicating to customers and associates in terms they don’t understand wastes time and money, and reduces your results and credibility.

Staying in geek-speak mode will lead to a nose-diving career. In today’s job market, communication is cited often as a top skill requirement, in professional positions. At the executive level, it will be a deal breaker.

Meeting Client Needs

“Technical geek-speak often separates IT from the rest of the groups, and not in a good way. People can’t relate, and see the message as not pertaining to them.” - Sherri Dewey, TransWest.

As an identical twin in childhood, my sister and I communicated in our own language, that no one understood but us. In your technology career, if eyes glaze over, and faces freeze up when you’re talking, you may be speaking your own dialect that only your tech-buddies comprehend.

Tech-talk doesn’t work for your client and senior management needs, including:

  • Spewing acronyms and industry terms and jargon not readily understood by others
  • Using long complex words not easily translated to other languages
  • Sharing unnecessary details about the technology
  • Condemning or passing judgment on those you serve, who you see as technically inferior
This covers oral conversations and presentations, and written email, chats, reports, or anything you put in writing online or off.

Adopting Your Message for the Audience, Not Yourself

Today you work with people and teams across town or across the world that you may not know, or ever meet. Consider the culture and language of the receiver, their motivation for wanting to “talk” to you, and what you expect to gain.

Communication enables relationships and business, and bridges the divide. It helps you build cooperation, trust and results. A global mindset is necessary.

Where You Can Get Help

In previous experience in credit and collections at major companies, Sherri was trained heavily in different types of communication, and how to listen, adapt, and relate to the each customer’s style:

“Being able to adapt has helped create success in my IT roles, when working with all levels of customer and staff.”

Increase your own success by:

  • Taking a business communications course at a local college
  • Reading a book on the topic and applying the principles
  • Attending training for customer service and communication
  • Participating in a Dale Carnegie course
  • Seeking a mentor or a coach
  • Trying out a Toastmasters chapter for public speaking
  • Asking your manager or a trusted peer for guidance
  • Sending for expert tips on losing your fear of public speaking to DebbieChristofferson@earthlink.net
  • Practicing, for changing and creating new habits

“Communicate with honesty and integrity, in a simple clear message, …without excessive spin and polish.” - Krista Switzer, HP Manager

To compete in the global talent pool, sharpen your soft skills. Increase your credibility, results and success in any position. Success or failure, which will you choose?

Coming Next: If you watched Big Brother All Stars, you saw a common thread that runs not just through reality shows, but also across the business world.

Women are competing with each other, at the expense of each other, instead of working together. We rarely see this occur with men. Tune in as we explore the cause, effect, and what we can do about it.

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Debbie Christofferson
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