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Patience with Communication

By Ryan Lambert -- Published March 14, 2014

Over the past years I have created a number of systems that various folks in various roles use for their daily jobs. In supporting a variety of systems to a number of different people with widely varying experience and personalities I think I have finally learned something: Communicating with everyone is annoying to me.

Will it still work if I open my window during a solar flare?

Understanding Myself

One thing I always try to remind myself is that I know without a doubt, that I'm not great at UI design. I do it. But only because I must. Anyone that knows me knows that the UI layer is the bane of my existence and that's the first reason why I must have patience when communicating about systems I built! If I think the UI isn't great and I built it, imagine how the end user feels. I try my best, but given a choice between making something work vs making something pretty I will choose making it work every time.

Another factor is that I am absolutely an introvert. I can talk with almost anyone about almost anything, I don't get nervous meeting strangers, and I'm even semi-comfortable talking in front of groups... but I'm still an introvert.

Understanding Others

I think I do fairly well at providing documentation and user guides, but I have to understand that they are largely ignored pieces of work. Don't get me wrong, I know that some people to read it and benefit from it, but the fact that they're ignored by many annoys me because I am repeatedly answering questions over the phone that I have documented somewhere else.

Your computer won't turn on, huh? Is it plugged in?

To me it seems like a massive waste of time taken away from writing code making the system better or starting on the next one, but I need to understand that the documentation will seem boring, dry, and technical. That's because it is! It's a document describing how to use a technical system to get work done written by someone in a technical documentation mindset (me). Oh joy, that's vacation reading for sure....

The Solution? Plan Communication

I like building systems that help other people out. I love helping people, so what can I do to not be irritated by the massive amount of communication required? I need to recognize the core problem is that I don't schedule support time and extra communication into the project. I'm thinking about building the systems, not supporting them. I need to start planning in time and effort to supporting the users using the system until they become accustomed to how it functions.

Hooray for using an issue tracker and project management knowledge to help identify the real problem!

By Ryan Lambert
Published March 14, 2014
Last Updated March 14, 2014