10) Communication and Empathy
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of programming has little to do with the manual and mental labor of writing code. Coding is an insular world that effects our lives more each day. Coders need to be able to work with, and explain what they do to employers, clients, consumers and coworkers that don’t understand what they do. Writing clean, effective code is great, but when you pair it with strong empathy and communication skills for beginning coders, end users, you become the rising cream. Anyone can say, “this is how we’re doing it,” or, “you just don’t understand.” Elite coders listen to feedback and adjust, even if those providing it don’t understand the ramifications of their words. An effective coder can manage expectations, interpret vague desires and honestly assess and communicate what is, and isn’t possible. Coders are known for their egos, but those willing to patiently give and accept advice and direction are far more respected than snarling programmers that only relate to their desktops.
Empathy is the art of comprehension, awareness, sensitivity and sharing of other people’s emotions. When coupled with the ability to express and prioritize others’ priorities and feelings, it’s extremely potent. Communication and empathy breeds positive, actionable accountability, and will make your job far easier in the long run. You’ll better understand others’ needs, feelings, and how your behavior and work are received and interpreted. And irregardless of coding, or work life, better communication and empathy will make you happier, more convincing and more durable to the negativity of others and hardships of life. These are skills that require proactive, consistent development, with the same level of focus and commitment you’d apply to learning a language or working on an important project.