People Skills are Underrated

At the risk of sounding like a self-absorbed borderline narcissist, I added an interesting skill to my “Featured Skills and Endorsements” on my LinkedIn profile today.

Nice Guy endorsement

That’s right, a “nice guy/gal”.

I don’t mean that I anticipate or desire everyone to like me, that’s unrealistic. It means I aspire to be courteous, empathetic, nice, and constructive, to the point where people would endorse me for that skill set.

In every development community I’ve participated, there has always been some level of abasement of ideas, gender, race, age, and experience.

The guiding principle that I think would help software engineers create a healthier culture might look like this:

Always assume that people are doing the best they can given their set of circumstances. Don’t assume the worst of people. Giving people the benefit of the doubt will make you a happier person and you won’t constantly feed into negative thoughts.

When software developers think of “skills” they tend to think of things like tools, frameworks, and languages. What about people skills, product skills, empathy, understanding, professionalism, and communication? What about one’s ability to mentor developers without making them feel less than you? What about encouraging people in our communities and companies with support instead of disdain? So many times businesses struggle not so much in the area of skilled knowledge workers, but more with interactions between customers and internal people.

People skills are underrated.