As architects, many of us have grown from highly technical positions where our success was derived mainly from our ability to talk to machines. However, in the role of architect much of our communication is now done with our fellow human beings. Whether it's talking to developers about the benefits of employing a specific pattern, or explaining to management the cost-benefit tradeoffs of buying middleware, communication is core to our success.
Although it's difficult to measure an architect's impact on a project, if developers consistently ignore their guidance and management doesn't buy-in to their recommendations, the "rightness" of their guidance will do little to advance their career. Experienced architects understand that they need to "sell" their ideas and need to communicate effectively in order to do that.
Although many books can be written on the topic of inter-personal communication (and, indeed, many have), I wanted to call out one simple, practical, easy-to-employ tip that will drastically increase the effectiveness of your communication, and, consequently, your success as an architect.
If you’re in any situation where you’re talking to more than one person about your guidance, stand up.
Whether its a formal design review, or an informal discussion over some diagrams, it doesn’t matter. Stand up, especially if everyone else is sitting down.
Standing up automatically communicates authority and self confidence. You command the room. People will interrupt you less. All that is going to make a big difference to whether or not your recommendations will be adopted.
You’ll also notice that once you stand, you’ll start making more use of your hands and other body language. When speaking to groups of 10 or more people, standing up will also ensure you can make eye contact with everybody.
Eye contact, body language, and other visual elements account for 55% of communication.
Standing up also tends to change your tone of voice, volume, pitch, and speed: projecting your voice to larger rooms; slowing down to make more important points. These vocal elements count for as much as 38% of communication. Words alone are just 7%.
In short, the easiest way to more than double your effectiveness is quite simply to stand up.
(Edited by UD 7/7) (Edited by RMH 7/6)
By Udi Dahan
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3
Back to 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know home page