Soft Skills for Software Developers

The software development world is aggressive and resilient and developers must possess both soft and technical skills to excel in their career. Acquiring technical skills is the easy part as developers only need to work hard on the professional front.

However, achieving critical soft skills that facilitate harmonious, efficient, and easy interaction between the developers and other employees can be an arduous task. Software developers are said to be dictatorial, introverted, aggressive, and defensive people who will do anything to defend their perspective.

Such characteristics leave little room for soft skills and working with them can be challenging. Seeing that teamwork is essential in the software development world, developers must learn how to nurture them for better execution of tasks. In his book, “How to win friends and influence people, Dale Carnegie points out critical points which can come in handy to help developers improve their software developer skills. The significance of soft skills for developers in the workplace cannot be underestimated. Here are some essential soft skills that every developer should possess.

1. Empathy

Empathizing gives developers the opportunity to identify with the problems they go through and establish a strategy to customize the project to meet their needs. According to Dale, listening to others is a great way of understanding their point of view. He goes on to highlight that even the most hardened criminals are certain that they are innocent and no one understands them.

Criticizing people is not the way to go because when you do, you confuse them and deny them the opportunity to defend themselves. Avoid complaining about them too. Remember, everybody, yearns to be appreciated and made to feel important than anything else there is in life. Appreciating your colleagues is an ideal way of encouraging them to be more cooperative in executing the project.

Just like shouting and scolding at your child won’t get them to do what you want, doing the same on your employees will be futile. Rather than arguing, you may want to stimulate an eager want in them as Dale explains in his book. Suggest new ideas and where possible demonstrate them practically. Many times, demonstrations will give you better results than mere talking.

2. Teamwork

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Whether you like it or not, working as a team is necessary for the project to succeed. You can accomplish this by understanding how to make friends according to Dale Carnegie’s concept. Dale points out that you can make friends by adopting the characteristics of a dog. As you already know, dogs are said to be man’s best friend.

They give you nothing but pure love. Instead of attempting to make people interested in you, be interested in them. This will draw them closer to you and you will become friends in no time. Practice the power of the smile. If you smile at people, they will definitely smile back at you. Greeting people and impressing them with a smile is a strategy more powerful than clothing and jewels.

You also want to remember the names. If you’ve ever attended a customer service class, then you know how powerful calling people by their names can be. When you are working with a team, you want to try and remember their names and this will improve your working relationship. This tactic worked for Andrew Carnegie the proprietor of US steel. In a bid to have the president purchase steel from him, he went ahead and named his steel factory located near the president of Pacific railroad after his name.

Even when you are working with a large group of people, you can repeat people’s names over and over again so that you don’t forget them. You can even write them down. A better way of remembering people’s names is by mastering their features. When you do this, you not only become a great conversationalist, you develop more interest in them and they draw closer to you. Gradually, you will master the art of communicating with them to establish what they are interested in and how they are doing.

Adopt good listening skills and encourage your team to open up about themselves and the challenges they are facing in the project. This way, you can work together to eliminate the barriers and establish robust strategies to make the project a success. Another secret of collaborating successfully is by establishing what your team members are interested in, researching extensively on their recommended topics, getting accustomed with the same and holding meetings with them to discuss the topics they raised.

While at it, you want to make them feel important and this will play a major role in getting them to like you. Remember, collaborating with others well makes your project more exciting and fun. It also convinces your team members that you are an accommodating person who they would be interested in working within the future. This is not to say that you will always agree with your team members. However, having varying perspectives helps you develop more successful projects and enhances productivity as well.

3. Communication

Effective communication is essential both at home and at work. In the software development realm, developers play a major role in the team and are well spoken especially during meetings. As a developer, there are various factors you can consider to enhance your communication skills. They are:

  • Speak with conviction and make sure you are clear enough. Speaking in public can be an arduous task even for established public speakers. While many times you may not believe your ability, you want to be confident enough. Deliver your points confidently and people will definitely listen to you.
  • Be a good listener. A good communicator is someone who does more listening than talking.
  • Give your team members a chance to speak without interrupting them. You want to listen to their points first and give your thoughts once they are done.

One of Dale Carnegie’s lessons from his classic How To Make Friends And Influence People on how to make people that are relevant to this point is avoiding arguments as much as possible. This is because you will hardly convince them to change their minds and you could lose goodwill, something that can render your concepts worthless regardless of how right you are.

Dale gives an example and says, if one person is yelling, the other should be honorable enough to listen. There is no point in two people yelling at each other and they will not come to a compromise anyway. Avoiding an argument is far better than engaging in one. Being respectful to one another is essential for better communication. For instance, if the police pull you over for a mistake you have committed, admit that you are wrong.

When you do so, you take away their power and give them the chance to show their generosity. Remember, they hold the power to either keep holding you or let you go. On the other hand, if you attempt to defend yourself, you force them to prove their point and things can turn ugly. According to Dale Carnegie, a drop of honey can play a major role in helping you win over someone as opposed to an entire gallon of gall.

What this means is, remain reasonable and gracious when you want to achieve something. Chances are high that you will get it. As a developer, enhance your communication skills and you’ll create a conducive environment for your team to work in and steer the project to success.

4. Open-mindedness

With an open mind, you can easily welcome new ideas regardless of who is presenting them. Remember, even the ideas you deem worthless can inspire a great concept only if you are willing and ready to consider them before disregarding them. The more ideas you can get from your team, the more projects you can execute.

Of course, not every idea will mature into something and you may not tell what will or will not work at the preliminary stages. Have an open mind and be ready to embrace new ideas from the company, your team members, and even clients. Clients specifically are pivotal for the success and continued improvement of products seeing that they are the ones who utilize your products.

They are best placed to suggest what best fulfills their needs. One way of doing this is by giving other people the opportunity to take credit for an idea. You can do a bigger percentage of the work and leave the rest to hem. Once the idea succeeds, they will be convinced that their input pushed the product to success. Always try to honestly see things from the perspective of other people. It’s a case of giving sympathy to earn sympathy.

4. Approachability

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In your development task, your team members or supervisors will come to you seeking answers to something. It can be about a bug or issue in the project or your daily tasks. It could even be non-work related to your plans for the weekend. Being approachable is essential in the software development world.

Remember, people will approach you according to how you present yourself towards them. If they are convinced that you are unapproachable, they will hardly ask you for assistance when they face problems with the project. What this means is that a small problem could easily escalate.

Being unapproachable also discourages other people from offering assistance when you need it. Establishing a rapport with your team members is vital if you want them to collaborate with you in the project as opposed to working against you. If you happen to be committed and can’t make time for people letting them know upfront can be a courteous act.

You can also go invisible or even offline in the company chat to avoid giving people the impression that you are ignoring them.  If someone tries to approach you directly, you may want to communicate your situation at the time and give them an appointment when you’ll not be as committed.

5. Patience

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Often, your team will comprise of non-developers and they will need more explanation for your decisions. You will need to explain the same in a simple non-technical method that they will understand with ease. You may want to know that not everyone will understand your point up front. Some people will need you to explain further and you will need lots of patience with this lot.

That will help you stay sane and enhance your working relationship with the entire team. Remember, non-developers have no idea of the challenges developers face when writing code and they will often ask you to execute something without understanding the extent of their demands.

This can be frustrating and annoying at the same time. You will need to be patient enough to let them know why it’s not as easy as they perceive it to be. Once you give them a comprehensive explanation, you may not need to repeat again.

Finally

These soft skills for developers will come in handy to help them and their team members collaborate with ease. Remember, problems will arise at some point and you will need astute and exceptional problem-solving skills to handle them.