Communication is Key

My online bio will tell you that I have a degree in Computer Science and a degree in Linguistics. In both, we deal with communication. Computers have input and output. We write and read from databases. Our browsers have to retrieve data from servers to display. Linguistics also has a lot to do with communication. There are speakers and hearers; writers and readers.

The reality of Olive Technology as a company is that we cross cultures. Many who work in our India office may not be familiar with American cultural idioms and contexts. For example, near the deadline of a project, I can’t talk about holding the line for the last possession, or how we’re at the bottom of the ninth and down two outs. And I’m sure there are going to be plenty of cricket metaphors that would baffle me as well.
If you will permit the Linguist side of me to geek out a little bit, English is Subject Verb Object. Many Indian languages are Subject Object Verb. And what’s more, indirect objects precede direct objects. That means my team members in India will need to hear my words, and reorder them just to put them into a frame that they can understand.

But one of the things that I learned working with my engineers for the past two years is that we are all on a team, and we always give each other the benefit of the doubt. Just recently, I had a communication gap with some of my teams. The temptation, of course, is to point to the other for the breakdown in communication. I am reminded again and again that the communication channel is two way. I also need to speak in a way that will communicate, and I have to work hard to listen in a way that I receive what they are sending.

The fact that we are all on the same team, working toward the same goal of achieving success for our clients, is something that makes communication easier. My teams understand that I am not trying to be obtuse and difficult. And so, if I have a catchphrase, let it be this one. As I work toward being a better communication channel between our clients, expressing their needs, and our engineers, expressing their needs, I will often be heard saying. “How could I have said that better?” Or “I’m trying to understand what you’re trying to tell me, but I’m not getting it.

So for us at Olive Technology, we have an ethos of actively overcoming communication challenges and hope you, our clients, will be able to reap the fruit of those efforts.

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