Thursday, March 27, 2008

Get trained to ask the right questions?

I face/ deal with customers a lot as part of my work. To be success with clients it is very important to have a good communication skill. Though I am not the guru to teach you how to improve communication skills, I have my two cents that I would like to write here, hoping to give some help...

When communicating, it is very important to ask the right question and also to give the correct answer. This is a skill or rather art, that one need to master, especially if you are in the same business as I am in. I know that this sound simple for native English speakers. But for someone who’s English is not their mother language, this is a big issue. As the out sourcing industry is booming, I can see a bottle neck is getting created in Asian countries, hurting their growths due to this issue. They know the technology and they know how to do it, but still fail with that weak communication skill. This is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. The people, who are in IT industry, need to have good communication skills to sustain and grow. Even if you are a native English speaker, if you don't have that skill to explain something well, you will fails, especially when gathering requirements for a new IT project. So, how you improve communication skill? First thing is to understand whether you really have a communication issue. Okay..

How you understand whether you have a communication problem?

Best thing to do is, to put you on a test. This is my suggestion..-Go to an online news groups, forum or even group chat board, and use that as a test tool to evaluate your communication skills.

How you going to use news group to evaluate your communication skills?

Let's assume that you have some kind of a problem related to a software system that you are building these days. Login to a news group (Microsoft news group is recommended, if you are using MS technologies) and just ask the question. You will get an answer within a very short time. While reading the answers, be careful about replier’s response about your question. Some of them will criticize about the way you have asked the question. If they say that your question is not clear, not descriptive enough bingo.. You indeed have an issue with the communication skill.

Once you realized the issue, work on it. When you ask a question just don’t assume anything (I heard someone said that assumptions are the mother of all fuck-ups. Let me tell you this, he is right) just think that you are dealing with someone who knows nothing about what you are talking. Then try to explain the issue that you want to get an answer with extreme care. Obviously to master the skill of ask the question right will take some time. Take your time and do this over and over until you feel confident about what you are asking.

Think about the order in which, you brought up your points, and also the depth, you go to explain important sections. I have seen some people write the most important item at the last making it wholly difficult to understand. Some even forget to note it. Some start the writing from the place where he stops thinking. Avoid all these. If you do this long enough I am sure that you can improve..

How you write a complete answer?

Next, is to find a way to give a complete answer to a question. Here again, use the same news group as the test tool. This is little more difficult, and also takes little longer. Come to the news group often and carefully wait for a question to arrive that you know the answer. Once you see the opportunity, jump at it and write a neat answer. If you do well you will get the reward but if not (if a confident individual in his bad mode sees your answer) you will get beaten until you are dead. Let yourself punished for bad answers. At the start you will write some bad answers. If someone criticizes your bad answer, don't hide yourself. Think that as a blessing, he is giving you an opportunity to improve your communication skills. So argue with him and try to defend yourself, this will give you the confident and also the pressure that you need to learn more. Once you practice this often you will gain the confident and also may stand tall among those gurus. Remember, this will take at least a year to season you as a confident individual who can communicate well in a news group.

How the experiences in News Group help to improve the communication with a customer?

Who do well in a news group, will do well with customer. Take it as the norm. Now you will know what to tell, how to order the items in your email, and how to dim an issue, how to highlight an issue, while doing all these keep a very good relation with your client. It is like the way government deal with media, what government release to media, how they handle media, same applies when you handle a customer.

So that’s it. Hope someone may learn something out of this..

Ravana - The Noble Emperor of Lanka

He was the king for all human and divine races, and the one who can command the Sun.