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Первый и дальнейшие эпизоды посвящены улучшению коммуникации на английском, как для себя, так и для своей карьеры. Каждый эпизод содержит в себе советы, которые мне приходилось давать десятки раз студентам, которым я преподавала - ребятам, переехавшим в разные страны и устроившимся в наикрутейшие компании Amazon, Google, Accenture и не только. В запись вошло только то, что сработало и было полезным для большинства. Каждый эпизод идет около 10 минут.

1. Communication: Filtering Information transcript

Hello everyone! My name is Alina, I'm the person behind One Way Or Another. In this project we work on communication skills and how you can use them when you are communicating in English. I have 7 years of experience of working with people of various backgrounds and ages. Most of the time I help people who find it hard to progress in their career because of poor communication. The tips and techniques I'm covering in my blog can be useful for absolutely anybody regardless of background. This is the first episode of One Way Or Another podcast. Today we are going to chat about filtering information.

 

Filtering information is probably the skill the lack of which gave a lot of headaches to people I’ve worked with. There are 3 very simple techniques that I want to talk about today - selecting, simplifying and prioritising. They are very far from rocket science - not difficult at all, and this is exactly why many people forget to use them. So the trick here is not to learn a technique but to remember to use it.


Let’s start with some examples of when you can use these techniques. We will imagine a situation, where you work as a project manager for a company that makes apps for other businesses. In this role you need to communicate with a lot of other teams and people, but for simplicity let’s say you work with app developers, with UX/UI designers and also with a representative of a client company. The client wants an app that will allow easier communication between patients of a private hospital and the doctors. 

 

Essentially, you meet with the client, report on the progress and then distribute the  tasks and information to the developers and the designers.

 

When the client asks you about delays in the project, you don’t want to share the technical details about developers trying to mount an appropriate  database, or UX designers needing more time to decide on the position of a button. Your client doesn’t need to know all that and also your client cannot do absolutely anything with this information. They need to know some actionable details - can they help speed up the delay? Do you know how long the delay will be?  What should they tell their manager? So, in situations like this simplifying technique usually works best. We want to simplify our information and make it as actionable as possible. In our example it would be best to say that the delays are caused by the improvement of the system, rather than saying that it is caused by a choice of a database. When you are using simplifying technique you avoid overloading your listener with unnecessary details they can not use or sometimes can not understand.

 

A different technique of selecting information is used when you need to distribute information to your teammates. As a project manager you probably know more than anyone else about the app you are building with the team. Your time costs money, and so does the time of your colleagues, so you don’t want to repeat the same information twice, especially since not everybody needs it. UX/UI designers will benefit from knowing that the app will be used by colourblind patients, elderly people and someone with Alzheimer, for example, but your developers will find it difficult to translate it into some actionable insights. Designers will happily do that and make targets such as ‘specific colour scheme, bigger buttons, intuitive interface’. When it comes to the developers, you probably want to share the file formats users will use, expected SLAs, potentially important features - such as booking appointments. Knowing this will help them optimise the app for various use cases and make informed technical choices. When you are selecting information like this, you provide your teammates with helpful insights and save their time.

 

Finally the third technique is prioritising information. It works both when you are receiving and distributing information. Always have some sort of a ranked list in your mind which will put the tasks and facts in a specific order. If you know that it will take your designers 2 more weeks to finalise the color scheme, is it important to discuss the buttons and fonts now? Maybe it is, but most likely you will be wasting everyone's time. When you are receiving information, try to understand if it’s important for you  now. If you can act on it in the next 2 weeks or make it useful for your colleagues - definitely go for it pay attention, and if not - in most cases you will have to come back to this information later anyway, and spend double time.

 

So, if we are not sure about using  those tips, we can ask ourselves 3 simple questions.

First, can my listener do anything useful with the details I am providing? If not, use simplifying. 

Second, does my listener need all the details? If not, use selecting.

And finally, the third question, does my listener need all the details now? If not, use prioritising.

 

These tips are of course not all you can do to improve your communication skills. But if you focus on those, you will see how fast your communication becomes easier both for you listeners.

 

Now, are these tips only applicable to project managers? Of course not. They are very important during presentations, work interviews, Agile stand-up meetings and many other communication types. Let's say you are interviewing for a new job. Regardless of the position you will most likely be asked about your leadership skills, teamwork, failures, successes and job-relevant skills. A lot of the times, people forget to filter their answers and they start answering from bottom to top, starting with the most ancient thing on their CV and taking quite some time to get to the most recent experience. I have had cases where people, who were very smart and very skilled, would start the answer to a question about their teamwork skills with a chess club they organised when they were in high school. You might think this is silly and you would have easily avoided this, and you might be right to be fair. The main thing here is that when we don’t have practise in filtering information, it is difficult for our brain to do this under pressure. Obvious questions from your interviewer might be ok, but you will be asked something you don’t expect from time to time, and this is where filtering is important. 

 

Another very common struggle with filtering is CV. In most cases companies prefer 1 page CVs, and it is not easy for many people to actually fit everything on 1 page. What helps is remembering that the CV should get you the interview, not the job. The interview is where you can give more details and examples that did not fit into your CV. So the questions you should ask are almost the same.
 

First, can the recruiter do anything useful with the details I am providing in the CV? For example, can these details help the recruiter compare my CV with CVs of other candidates? If not, use simplifying. 

Second, does my recruiter need all the details? If not, use selecting. Having 2 examples of leadership skills is essentially the same as having 5 - it is clear you have those skills.  

Finally, the third question you should ask yourself - does my recruiter need all the details now? If not, use prioritising. Save the rest for the interview.

 

Now this was a brief overview of how we can make our communication easy for us and for our listeners through filtering information by following just three tips - simplifying, selecting, prioritising. Try to practice them in your daily life and see how much easier it becomes once you get used to it. Thanks a lot for tuning in. If you have any questions, please send them to alina@onewayoranother.info. Don’t forget to check the telegram channel for more tips!

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