They call them soft skills, and I find this definition quite silly, to be honest, especially when applied to certain industries and the people working there. For example, Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory would sue you if you only dare to say he’s a tech-man and not a scientist, and he would introduce you to Howard Wolowitz just to take the piss out of him. But at the end of the day, any man able to build up a Billy bookcase thinks he’s a Nobel Prize like no other.
As for me, you can easily measure the extent of my tech skills by counting all the bugs and coding errors that infest this website. Take that line in the homepage, just below “The Latest” section: it is supposed to look orange, not black, but I’m fed up with spending my nights trying to fix it up.
But even if, due to my dyscalculia, I am not able to work out the change at the supermarket, this doesn’t prevent me to sound and act just like old Sheldon when he gets pissed off if someone else takes his spot on the couch.
I addressed the point two years ago in my blog post about the office chair hierarchy. I try to dissimulate my lack of soft skills all the time, as too much it is expected in that sense from a writer: just because we write, it’s taken for granted that we are sensitive and emphatic and blah blah blah. Had I wanted to be sensitive and emphatic, I would have been a nurse.
But if you are a nerd, nobody will assume that you’ll treat people as carefully as you treat algorithms, so you’ll have a harder time demonstrating that you can live in this world. Here are three crucial soft skills you should (pretend to) master in order to get and keep a job in the tech industry.
Humility towards the HR manager
The HR manager wants you to look and sound like a regular guy in order to justify their salary; they know well that you wash your hands both after and before using the toilet, they know you would rather working home and alone without all those people around asking you what your opinion about Windows 10 is. Still, you need to show the HR manager that you’re a perfect fit for the job, so you need to show some humility, pretending you really do care about their sore throat when you ask them how they are.
Patience towards confused Becky
As confused Becky comes to you in tears stating that the computer just broke down by itself without her having an active part in it, you will have to practice patience. Becky is usually either a skinny secretary wearing ballet pumps or a freckled account executive whose job has absolutely nothing to do with yours; still, at some point, she was told you could help her with this kind of stuff. Now, confused Becky doesn’t need you to lecture her on how she shouldn’t eat her porridge straight on the keyboard, or that she was supposed to install Avira around three years ago: confused Becky needs you to be patient and screw up all your plans for the day in order to repair her Mac. And this is what you’re expected to do.
Empathy towards the remote IT team in India
If you work in this industry (and even if you don’t) you will always have to face a remote IT team in India that will mess all your hard work up without ever stopping smiling and asking how your family is. As you try to speak with them on the phone, you will need to stay calm and show empathy and no, you won’t throw your bloody soft skillset, as well as the computer itself, out of the window.