I always feel like I have really piss poor terrible (oral) communication skill.
To this day, the friends who I consider as “close friends” are the ones whom I’ve met online from various platforms such as IRC, forums or bulletin boards, Facebook (which I don’t use anymore), etc.
My main mode of communication with them is through instant messaging so chatting has become a huge part of my social life.
It’s not like I have friends IRL, I do have friends IRL. It’s just the fact that even the closest ones I contact through chatting.
If you see me in real life, you’ll most likely see me as a rather reserved person who rarely communicate with others except his closest friends. Though, don’t let this hesitate you to say hi or communicate with me.
It is just the fact that I always feel uncomfortable in introducing myself or getting to know people. Even though that I really wanna meet people and see new faces.
“Soft skill” bullshit
I always hate the idea of “soft skills”. The idea that you can excuse poor communication skill if you have a huge span of technical skills (“hard skills”). I disagree on this.
Technical skills and expertise in communication goes hand-to-hand. If you cannot speak with your clients on what the issue is and how to fix it, that is an issue.
No matter how big your skill set is having poor communication skill will drag you down under.
While I’m currently a university student, I work at VIPERdev as a “DevOps engineer”. I like working remotely as I could manage my own schedules and work wherever I want.
Thanks to this, most of my communication with the team is done through text.
However, there’s one killer to this: meetings. Meetings always feel like a chore for me. While they’re the easiest way to get shit done™, I always find it difficult to construct my ideas, combine them together and construct an understandable sentence.
I always feel like my train of thought is going at a higher speed, not to mention that I find it really hard to concentrate and often times get distracted very easily.
In text, I can write things down, verify grammar, make sure the sentence is understandable and transmits my idea well, and repeat.
This is difficult to do when I’m speaking because I have to do all of that in one go within milliseconds.
I do acknowledge that I am a shitty communicator and I’m unable to transmit my ideas well orally.
Listening, reading and writing are mediums of communication that I’m simply more comfortable with. Speaking is just marginally difficult.
It is not because I cannot speak but rather, I’m just not used to it.
I should speak more but the problem is with whom?
Finding people to chat about topics that I’m interested in is hard, hence why I communicate more with friends online rather than IRL.
When I was in middle school, I used cars as a go-to topic in order for me to socialize with them.
When I was in high school, well, it is a lot more difficult and I ended up not socializing more except close peers.
Now, I’m in university and … it is a lot easier.
For those who don’t know, I’m currently in France for university and of course, I have to speak French.
You might think that it is a lot difficult for me due to the language barrier and yes, sometimes it is1.
In reality, most of the time with my uni colleagues, it’s fine since it’s a lot easier to find people who share common interests with me. I can chat about random shit from 2hu, computers to board games.
This is the rare times where I actually found a group of people that I’ve felt really comfortable talking with.
Of course, these conversations are done in French since finding a frenchmen/frenchwomen who speaks English that is not an English teacher is very difficult2 and I generally don’t care about the language barrier.
Knowing people is probably one of the most important things, ever. Not having someone to talk to was one of my issues of my piss poor communication skills and now, I feel rather more comfortable talking with people in my uni.
I also realized it is the same when I meet my colleagues at work in real life. I’m able to talk to them rather comfortably since well, I already know them and I know what collection of topics we can talk about.
Talking with strangers
Talking with strangers however is still difficult for me. I’m always afraid of giving the wrong impression to people. I usually rely on people to start communicating with me rather than the reverse but when the only choice is me to start, I do something rather strange.
What I do usually is spot a group of people talking about something and just walk into them and listen. Of course, this won’t work with people who are talking something in a private manner but in events like tech conferences, this is what I typically do.
I usually listen if it’s a conversation that I’m interested it. If not, I just leave and look for another one. If it is, I just wait for a chance to speak. Of course, there are times when I won’t get a chance to speak and just become a random person in a group that nobody knows. But meh, it kinda works but rather poorly.
Another thing that I do in conferences is to go to the stands room and just see interesting things and just chat about what they’re presenting or ask questions. This method works a lot better than the previous one. I guess this is due to the fact that the host’s job is literally to talk with people about what they’re presenting. So, I just take that as an advantage. The best thing that could happen is when there’s someone else in the stand (who’s not a host) and you end up speaking in a group. I managed to know some people this way but it’s rather few since I still feel uncomfortable and awkward.
From all of this, I managed to develop a concept of “levers”. They’re simply things that I could use at my advantage in order to get to know people.
These are usually topics whether it be anime, computer science or cars. I use these levers, usually as starters, to meet people.
While my ways maybe questionable, it somewhat works but not all the time. I still somewhat prefer if one just say hello to me rather than the reverse to the point I want some sort of sign that says “I’m open to a conversation about whatever”. Oh well.
Like seriously, I’m open to suggestions on how to improve my communication skills and how to meet strangers. Seeing extroverts being so fucking natural at meeting random people feels like magic to me. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just have to work at times.
Also, sorry that you have to read through this rambly mess, it’s just one of those things that I’ve been wanting to write about but never got the chance to do so. Might as well do it now™.