Problems in Communication Between Decision Makers and Developers Due to a Language Barrier

The name Virginia Satir might not be known to many in the IT industry, but her contributions to the realm of family and group therapy are widely celebrated. Interestingly, her work has significant connections to computer programming.

Through close examination of one partner’s language in a relationship, Virginia Satir was able to help couples improve their communication skills. Her findings revealed that a large portion of marital issues stem from miscommunication.

Project meetings commonly conclude with attendees feeling dissatisfied and uncertain, without having achieved any substantial results. This often results from a lack of clarity between the decision-maker and the developers concerning each other’s intentions. Having someone akin to Virginia Satir with strong problem-solving capabilities to assuage these matters would be incredibly advantageous.

The Skill of Effective Communication

The most significant lesson to be gleaned from Virginia Satir’s works is the expression, “we don’t speak the same language.” Even if two individuals are communicating in the same language, there can be large disparities in the interpretation of the words they are utilising. Therefore, it’s evident that speaking a common language doesn’t always imply an interchange of mutual comprehension.

Allow for the following scenario: a project manager is presenting an innovative and game-changing solution that will be integrated into the project. This is a fresh and transformative concept for everyone in attendance.

A junior developer, who has previously dealt with unwarranted changes, now perceives any new implementations as additional work. Since it involves expending time to learn a new tool, they believe it distracts them from the primary task of developing the project.

For the person in charge of decision-making, the prospect of investing time and resources in a new initiative must be considered in light of the possibility of timely completion of the project. Are we approaching our budgetary threshold for this project?

At the outset of the conversation, the management team expressed apprehension regarding possible outcomes, the developers regarding the extent of labour and resources necessary, and the decision-maker regarding the cost. The decision-maker expressed anxiety that the expenses may surge too high. In response, the manager affirmed that, even if that were true, the proposal would still satisfy their standards.

To claim that communication is bound to fail without grasping divergent standpoints may be an overstatement; nonetheless, comprehending varying perspectives is crucial to ensure successful communication.

Communicating clearly and authentically, while devoting time to understanding others’ thoughts, is vital in every situation. Unfortunately, there may be instances when we lack awareness of our own behaviours, making it arduous to articulate our ideas effectively.

In such cases, seeking guidance from a trusted friend or loved one by asking the appropriate questions can help foster better self-awareness. This aspect of Satir’s methodology highlights the significance of having a reflective ally to better grasp our own ideas and thought processes.

The Language Spoken by Those in Authority

Decision-making often entails more than one person, including investors, project managers, and end-users. At times, the arduous task involves reaching the person with the final say in the matter.

Regardless, they share a common goal of ensuring the accomplishment of the venture; they simply can’t come to an agreement regarding how to accomplish it.

While each decision-maker has their own unique motivations, Hubspot recognizes five specific categories of decision-makers.

A Charismatic Individual

Visualize an individual who is sociable, innovative, vibrant, and popular. This person is a born leader who thrives on tangible outcomes. They welcome new ideas but shun long-term commitments owing to their zeal and vigour.

Collaborating with a highly motivated decision-maker allows developers to attain peak success by harnessing the dynamism and fervour of such leaders, while also serving as a balancing presence. It’s possible to get swept up in their zeal, however, leading to the establishment of unrealistic objectives.

An Introspective Individual

Deep-thinkers are individuals who possess a strong sense of curiosity, consistently seeking wisdom and basing their decisions on factual evidence (as discussed in our blog post about datafication). Driven by logic and reasoning, they are more susceptible to rational arguments as opposed to emotional persuasion.

Those involved in development may notice that their clients tend to be more guarded in their decision-making process, prioritizing stability over taking chances on novel concepts. These decision-makers typically adopt a methodical and prudent approach, preferring to adhere to established practices.

Intellectuals possess a natural ability to make well-informed decisions by taking into account a wider perspective and coming to their own conclusions, making them skilled at communicating complex and challenging arguments. They shine when faced with a difficult problem.

A Skeptical Believer

Collaborating with a skeptic may result in them offering a range of criticisms. These decision-makers place great importance on their own points of view and experiences, and are often insistent on pointing out any shortcomings in ideas that differ from their beliefs.

Skeptics possess the bravery to voice their genuine stances, even if it may make them come across as unsympathetic or detached. This is beneficial, as skeptics are often the most principled people in attendance.

Earning the trust of a skeptic can be a valuable asset; they will leverage their conviction to steadfastly stand by and support you.

Scrutinizing a project from a skeptic’s viewpoint can be strenuous, but it can offer a high level of confidence that all queries or apprehensions have been resolved. Developers who can proficiently articulate their concepts from a skeptic’s standpoint are a valuable resource.

The Devotee

The devotee shares a comparable stance on risk-taking with the intellectual. In contrast to other decision-makers, they are less inclined to embark on risks and are more prone to sticking to established methods instead of trying out something novel. They wait until a trend has attained significant establishment before adopting it.

The decision-maker is more susceptible to persuasion if you adhere to established methodologies, furnish evidence of customer contentment, and showcase data-backed outcomes. If innovative solutions are required, then developers should amass as much substantiating information as possible to support their ideas.

Developers ought to concentrate on particular aspects such as security, testing, and feedback loops, rather than giving a general overview. Demonstrating preparedness is crucial to earning the trust of any backer.

The Controller: A/C

Controllers typically thrive when they are directing a situation since it enables them to be highly organized and produce precise outcomes. They are commonly averse to risk and may be more prone to relinquishing a task if they lack control over its outcome.

Controllers may be prepared to undertake risks, yet only when they feel confident and well-informed about the situation. They aim to guarantee that they are receiving precise and dependable information from professionals in the relevant field. If customers have a query regarding the user experience, they would rather interact with a UX designer than a project manager.

Since the controller necessitates time to evaluate information prior to answering, it is recommended not to hurry them. They will be more content if they have a greater degree of autonomy in the decision-making process.

Recall that Every Individual is Distinct

As a manager, it is imperative to recognize your favoured communication style and be capable of articulating your concepts in a clear and succinct manner. Doing so will induce both developers and project managers to be more conscientious about how they communicate with stakeholders.

It is vital to keep in mind that sweeping statements should not be accepted as truth; acknowledging that each person has their own unique set of values is the foundation of effective communication with them.

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