'Techies' need to communicate, too
Jul 09, 2015
"Techies" often have the reputation of not being very friendly or acting as if they are better/smarter than you.
"Two reputations that are not deserved," insists Jodie Vesey, who works with us at Laurie Richards & Associates. "You could say that 'techies' are the most misunderstood people in business. If anything, this is miscommunication at its worst."
According to Vesey, many times the miscommunication is initiated when the techie tries to explain a project or program in his or her "language." Individuals may be intimidated by the knowledge of the techie if they are in a less technical field.
"Remember that your area of expertise can be quite technical, and not everyone has your extensive knowledge," she says. "Be mindful not to talk over the heads of other people. You will lose their interest quickly."
One way for a techie to start to change their style is to step out of their comfort zone at a business social function - or even by the water cooler or lunch room. "If it's a larger function with a lot of new people, make it your goal to introduce yourself to two people you normally do not talk to or know," suggests Vesey. "Be prepared for small talk and have a couple of generic questions that you can ask people when you get caught during an awkward pause."
Vesey continues, "A great way to get people talking is to ask them questions about themselves." Some good topics include asking the person where they grew up, what type of television programs that they like to watch, or if they have read any good books lately. If the person has children or grandchildren, they can talk for hours about them!
"Initiate the conversation and then be prepared to answer these same questions about yourself," says Vesey.
When you are having face-to-face conversations, remember the high importance of eye contact, says Vesey. If this is difficult for you, then you will need to consciously practice until you are comfortable with giving people eye contact. "This may sound ridiculous, but practice looking yourself in the eyes in the mirror," she says.
Another simple thing to do is smile. "People do business with people they like and who they perceive as friendly," notes Vesey. "Smiling also puts other people at ease, and makes you much more approachable."
Techies should also be aware that telephone skills are important, as well.
"When you are on the phone, do not do other activities at the same time," emphasizes Vesey. "Do not go through emails, eat or drink. You will not be giving the caller your full attention, and they will know it. This will be a poor reflection on your part."
Vesey points out that when you leave voice messages, be sure to say your name, your company name and give your call back number slowly and clearly. It is very irritating when someone must play back your message a number of times to retrieve the information. Do not assume that people know who you are or remember your number.
Another irritant occurs during a business meeting when a cell phone goes off. "Your cell phone should never be heard during a business meeting, meal or presentation," declares Vesey. "Put it on vibrate or turn it off."
Just because you are a techie doesn't mean you cannot communicate. Like anything else, though, to improve upon something you need to work at it.
Laurie Richards is an accomplished international speaker who works with thousands of executives and association leaders. Known for her practical, interactive, and entertaining approach, Richards works with leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, sales people, and other professionals on improving communication at every level. She also lends her voice to video and audio programs in voice-over work. Richards’ experience as an international speaker and speaker coach comes into play as she helps clients strategically plan outcome-based presentations, put power into a PowerPoint (no more bored audiences), prepare for media interviews, manage crisis (before, during, and after), grow morale, build stronger teams, and improve everyday communications to directly affect the bottom line -- including new business pitches, state-of-the-organization addresses, sales presentations, and meetings. Many of Richards’ programs include personality profiling using proven Myers-Briggs, DISC, Social Styles, and other valid instruments to help clients work better as teams, improve efficiencies, select best candidates, and coach employees. Richards began her career as a legislative correspondent for Public Broadcasting. She managed leader communications for the National Pork Producers Council—the nation's largest commodity organization and originator of the successful, “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign. Richards has hosted radio and television shows, managed one of the nation’s fastest growing public relations agencies, launched award-winning public affairs programs, and managed highly effective grassroots lobbying efforts, and facilitated professional development programs for Fortune 500 companies and associations. Richards is described as "enthusiastic, professional, effective, practical, savvy, inspiring, and enlightening." Clients note her strengths as “an innate charismatic style coupled with the ability to really connect with her audience and bring practical real-life experiences we can use immediately.” Her business clients span throughout the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia giving her first-hand experience and cross-cultural awareness. To remain relevant, Richards’ learning material includes current information reflecting today’s high-speed lifestyles, cultural changes, technological advancements, and shifting priorities. Richards has degrees in communication and business management and has earned masters’ degrees in business management and psychology. She has a variety of certifications in micro-expressions and psychological profiling. Richards is currently working toward her PhD in industrial and organizational psychology.