Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Lost Art of Live Communication - a #pnsqc Live Blog

Wow, have we really already reached the end of the program? That was a fast two days!

Jennifer Bonine is our closing keynote and her talk is centered on the fact that we seem to be losing the ability to actually communicate with people. We are becoming "distanced". I've found that there are a handful of people that I actually talk to on the phone. It's typically limited to my family or people who I have a close connection to.

I work from home so I really have to make an effort to get up and out of my house. Outside of meetings and video calls I don't directly interact with my co-workers. There are no water cooler chats. We do use our chat program for intra-work communication, but otherwise, there really isn't any random communication. Is this good or bad? Jennifer is arguing, and I'd say successfully, that it's a bit of both, with a solid lean towards bad.

What is not debatable is that we are definitely communicating less in person and in real time. Is this causing a disconnect with families? I think it's highly likely. Jennifer does as well.

How much of our communication skill is non-verbal? To what level do we have to go through to make sure that a text message gives the full nuance that an in-person communication does? when we explain something to someone, how do we know they actually have received and processed the message effectively. Outside of an in-person discussion, we really don't. Often, even in an in-person discussion, there may well be a lot lost. Communication styles are unique to individuals and different people communicate and receive information differently.

I read a great deal, so I have a vocabulary that may go over the head of many of the people I communicate with. I pride myself on trying to "Speak Dude" as much as possible but my sense of speaking "Dude" may still have a lot of words that people may not understand. Having a big vocabulary can be cool but it's not necessarily a plus if the people I am communicating with doesn't get the words that I am using.

Jennifer suggests that, perhaps, one of the biggest positives of AI-based test automation making inroads has less to do with the fact that it can automate a bunch of testing and that it can free up our minds for doing lots of other things, things that are potentially a lot more interesting compared to the repetitive tasks.

We had a conversation break that amounted to "what would we want to do/be if we had one year to live and had a million dollars in the bank?" It was interesting to me to see that, after a very short time to think, I knew what I wanted to do. With those parameters, I would want to gather my wife and children and just tour the world. Go to places I've never been or visit places my kids have seen and I haven't. I'd love to have my daughters show me their experiences and memories of their time in Japan. I'd love my older daughter to be able to show me the areas she has been living in while she has been in Brazil (she'll be there for another thirteen months so I hope this experiment can be paused until she returns ;) ). The neatest part of this is how quickly that clarity comes.

Communication takes time, it takes energy, and it takes commitment. I'm on board with being willing to make a better effort at communicating better. Not necessarily communicating more but certainly upping the quality of the communication I participate in.

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