Soft Skill Hygiene
3 min read
fairly difficult
Eyes glaze over at the words "soft skills" for developers of both the "ship it" and technical purists camp. Unfortunately, humans aren't emotionally empty robots and team work is generally required to build anything of sufficient complexity. Trust helps build innovative and productive teams. Trust is built up from cultivating safety and vulnerability and we can achieve these characteristics through effective communication.
Listening comes first. People trust when they feel heard. Listening takes patience and being patience is a skill that takes effort to improve. When we listen, we can bubble with questions, agreements, and disagreements. Disagreements may cause us to stop listening. Especially disruptive are disagreements about expressed emotions. This is when respect comes into the picture.

Respectful listening means emotional validation. Although you may not think that the other party's emotions are real that does not change the fact that the other party feels them. It is disrespectful to hold the stance that you know a person's feelings better than themselves. Validating someone else's emotions means you trust the other party. A lack of trust tends to form from the worry that other people are manipulating us. To properly validate other people's emotions we need to take the leap of faith that the other party is being honest with us. People look at others who share as having great depths of courage to draw from, but it is the act of sharing that creates courage. It's the same with trust; in order to trust others we also need to foster trust. I won't deny that there are situations where someone may be manipulative and if you find you are surrounded by this type of behaviour, get out! Signs of manipulation tend to be oversharing of information (the subtle approach) or out-shouting peers (the…
Ryan James Spencer
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