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10 Hacks to Communicate with Geeks

10 Hacks to Communicate with Geeks

I have some good news. You don’t have to learn Klingon, write in code, or reset a secret password to communicate with geeks. Geeks represent many different types of people–video gamers, computer scientists, science fiction bookworms, theater geeks, mathematicians, and engineers. The list goes on. With such a diverse group, it can be difficult to know what to talk about. Often, geeks can feel just as awkward as you might.

When approaching a geek, you don’t have to be afraid. They won’t bite and they won’t transport you into a world so foreign that you’ll never be able to escape. Although, they’ll gladly take you there if you’d like.

Here are 10 hacks to effectively communicate with geeks.

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1. Don’t disturb the geek

Geeks love to engulf themselves in their work. While they may be interested in talking with you at some point, it’s best to let the geeks finish their work. At least let them notice you before you barge in and start talking at them. Respect the geek domain and respect the geeks when they are in their domain.

2. Find something geeky to talk about

The easiest way to relate to geeks is to speak their language. If a geek is into computers, ask a question about a computer problem you’re having! They love to talk about things they really know well. Often, you can’t get them to stop talking once they feel comfortable opening up to someone who is interested in learning about their favorite topics. Do a little research about a topic you know they will enjoy talking about.

3. Be absolutely clear about what you want

Typically, geeks don’t enjoy making small talk or beating around the bush. When approaching a geek for advice, get to the point. You will save yourself a lot of awkward conversation. Set clear expectations about the result you want to achieve, instead of focusing on the process to get there. Let the geek help you with what he or she does best.

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4. Don’t talk at the geek to fill in gaps in conversation

Geeks can be overwhelmed with too much chit chat. They aren’t interested in talking about life just to talk about life. They want to get to the root of the conversation. If there is an awkward silence, the geek is most likely formulating a calculated response to such a vague question. “Does not compute” plays over and over in a geek’s head.

5. Respect the geek’s valuable time

Geeks love to spend time doing what they love. Even though it may not make sense to what they enjoy spending time doing, respect that it takes time to do it. Don’t assume that geeks are doing busy work to pass the time. Geeks are smart people but it can still take a lot effort to solve the problems at hand. It may come easy to them, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take effort to do it.

6. Approach the geek with caution

Don’t barge into a geek’s domain. They aren’t typically excited to see you when they are in their geek worlds. They don’t want to be excitedly tapped on the shoulder or talked over. Allow the geek to approach you when he or she is ready. Let the geek come to you and make eye contact. They don’t like to be abruptly interrupted, because it takes their attention away from their valuable work.

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7. Request the geek’s unique expertise

Geeks love to help when they can! Often, it’s surprising to geeks when other people are genuinely interested in what they do. They love when they are asked to help someone solve a problem. Geeks are often great problem solvers who will do anything to find the answer. They want to help but just need know exactly what the problem is.

8. Be prepared to listen to geek language

Even though geeks love to help, they might assume that you know they language they speak.  To an outsider, some of the language may be boring or uninteresting. To a geek, it’s like reciting a Shakespearean sonnet. Ask questions to clarity but remember that they aren’t speaking in a secret language or code.

9. Respect the geek’s space

Don’t start messing with the geek’s toys, computers, notes, books, etc. There is a reason they are placed the way they are and it’s not something that’s “cute”. Geeks are passionate about what they own and what they love to do. They aren’t stuck in their childhood or have attachment issues. Some just enjoy building models and strategically placing action figures all over the house. It brings them great joy. Don’t mess with their joy.

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10. Treat them as people, not as foreign aliens from a galaxy far, far away

Many geeks like to escape to fantasy worlds and are enthralled by these worlds, sometimes to a fault. Deep down though, geeks are people just like anyone else. They want to be treated and respected as people. They may have a roundabout way of expressing their needs, but they definitely don’t like being treated as if they are, indeed, foreign.

The next time you want to communicate with a geek, remember these 10 tips as you approach a geek in his or her domain. You don’t have to figure out their secret code to get their attention. They are people first, and their unique geekiness is another awesome part of who they are.

Just remember to proceed with caution as you enter into that realm of uniqueness.

Featured photo credit: speak talk microphone tincan can/Ryan McGuire via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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