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Communication is Everything for Software Testers

There are many characteristics of good software testing pros, and arguably one of the most important skills is the ability to effectively communicate.  Communication is critical in terms of giving status updates, interfacing with developers, presenting bug reports, interacting with management, working with vendors and clients, etc.

Perhaps the most important trait of a good communicator is the ability to know his or her audience.  How you communicate with developers will be different than how you would communicate with analysts or managers, for example.  By knowing your audience, you will be better equipped to explain the issues to people who are not privy to the daily intricacies of the software testing process. 

Failure to communicate problems as well as solutions in a way that your audience can understand is a recipe for misunderstandings and subsequently process breakdowns.  If you are wary of your communication skills, do not worry.  This is a skill that can definitely be practiced and improved over time.  One way to improve the process is to encourage your audience to ask a lot of questions.  You could even ask them to summarize or restate the key points of what you were trying to convey just to make sure they fully understand. 

Another thing you can do to improve communication is to keep all the stakeholders in the loop.  For example, you could start sending daily update emails to a distribution list that contains everyone who needs to know.  You could also run certain ideas by a couple important people for feedback prior to giving the formal update. 

To sum it up, as software testers our skills can only take us so far.  It does not matter whether we have our ISEB or even ISTQB Advanced certification, or if we have 10 years of testing experience.  Poor communication skills will derail your career.  So, make improving these skills a priority.  Sooner or later you will be glad you did!   

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