The Language That All Developers Should Learn

March 9, 2020
Pandu Widhi

“Don’t speak alien!” or “Explain it in simple words!” Sounds familiar with these phrases? (Everybody whoever says that or hear that, put your hand in the air and say yeah).

Yes, we developers always assume that everybody lives in our world and speaks our language. For common people, it sounds like “Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah,” very alien, right? He he he.

That is why developers should learn “HUMAN LANGUAGE”, not only programming language. We should know how to speak and communicate like ordinary people.

Illustration by Unsplash
“Again, why should developers learn Human Language?”

As developers, we interact with many people from many disciplines, such as our team in other divisions: marketing, finance, design, and more. We work in very diverse industries and meet various clients. To avoid miscommunication and make the discussion more effective, we need to speak the same language.

Let’s say you need fundraising for your startup, you need a good presentation and a clear message to make all the investors believe then invest in your startup. When they understand the product you built, they can calculate how much potential benefit they will earn. Knowing how to communicate and speak with their language would be an advantage, and increase the probability of investment.

In another scenario, your client has a change request for the system you’ve developed (changing this and that), and expect to finish as soon as it is impossible (hahaha ever been in that kind of situation? ). If you can explain in common language so they could understand that the developing process is not as simple as they imagine, you can discuss and negotiate everything until there’s a solution in which everybody is happy.

Collaboration and coordination with other divisions to make a world-class deliverable for our client will be more effective if we discuss it in the same language, with common words. By “common,” it’s not tech jargon, marketing gimmick, finance formula, or a bunch of code.

Even with your fellow developers, junior or senior, sometimes we need to speak in a common language just because we speak different galaxies.

Illustration by Aji Unsplash
“I just do code and don’t need to meet people.”

As long as I know, we develop things to solve people’s problems. I think it’s vital to understand how to speak their language, how to communicate and interact with them. So we can create any conditions on our code, how many ‘if’ possibilities we need to handle when people interact with our product, how to predict and fix exceptions due to unexpected input.

How can we create better UI/UX if we don’t know people’s behavior, the right word for the CTA button if we don’t speak human language?

Any speech to text and voice command (I assume) must have a lot of research about human language so that they can be like now.

Here, in Catalyst Strategy, a strategic narrative consulting firm, we developers not only do coding, but we also challenge the design team for their design or the analyst team for their analysis. We want to deliver the best product for the client, so their narrative can be more impactful.

In Catalyst, we do a lot of activities that make us learn about the human language. We present and lead a book club session; we report our analysis, we present ideas and share our knowledge through a brown bag session, we discuss the latest technology every week. And of course, we have the ultra-bonding meeting for a more in-depth conversation.

All of this makes us practice how to speak like common people 😆

So, why don’t you try to turn off your terminal, meet people (in reality of course), make a conversation, and try to speak their language? You will get an unexpected experience.

You will find many ‘exception’, or be trapped in ‘endless loop’ of conversation, or even a ‘no response.’ But it helps us develop better products because we know how to handle every possibility that people will make, in our code.

Practicing human language, communication skills, can advance your career, get more job opportunities or even as simple as a free ticket concert :D and many more.

I hope this article is human enough, keep trying. 😄


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