Junior developers will often tell you they are afraid of talking to a customer. They are aware of that and their personal development plan will often include this:
🗯 "I want to improve my communication with clients"
But how can one "improve communication"?
Going back to the root cause
We need to dissect the problem here. Why? Well, it's a bit generic question that often comes with a generic, 0 energy wasted, answer. Majority of those answers could be categorized as "it will come with an experience". Well, the experience is one thing, but it doesn't answer the question. More experience doesn't always mean more improvement.
In this case it doesn't address the root cause for that stage fright you get when you have to talk about latest features in front of the client. You have to identify what's causing this stage fright and work on it. And, the sooner you tackle it, the sooner you'll "improve communication".
Facing the facts
I'll help you figuring out, and it won't be pleasant to hear. We have fears of communicating with clients because they might find out we're not competent! Full stop. That's it.
Our whole meeting would pass in a fear that somebody might ask a question we don't know how to answer. In that moment you're not focused on communication with the client.
- You're focused on your ego.
- You're focused on your position in the company. -You are asking yourself are you representing your company well enough etc.
You're focusing on all other things instead of one that you were brought for. For example, to explain some freshly developed feature. The sooner we face this, the sooner we can make progress.
So, working on "improving communications" has nothing to do with improving communication.
It has a lot to do with improving your other skills that you're lacking. And this is where you can take action. Because they are identifyable.
Once you address it, you can start working on it
You can identify, for example,
- that you don't know workflows in your project,
- or maybe you don't know how something is configurable or
- how something is supposed to work.
Take these things and work on them. You'll see how few things can make you comfortable next time when you need to talk to the client.
Hopefully, after realizing this, your personal development plan will have some actionable points that you can actually use to make progress.
❌ "I want to improve my communication with clients"
✅ I want to be familiar with the project I'm working on ✅ I want to know processes within the project ✅ I want to know the business use case of this project better etc.
Of course, this will all come with time, and after a year or two you'll see a drastic changes in a way you communicate with a client. But if you don't take actions to fix the root cause, you can be years in industry and still making the same mistakes, without any progress.