Improving Soft Skills as a Developer

Improving Soft Skills as a Developer

By all means not an absolute

Developers seem to be greeted with this air of being an alien race. One of my co-workers once introduced me to a client with a humours tone, that “us developers are from an outer species race”. I know she was joking and it was funny, but that can sometimes keep developers shy and lacking in communication skills even more. It’s almost a way to excuse a persons lack of ability to ask questions and uncomfortable, anxious mannerisms when in social situations.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. Remember when you were learning to code, well the same can be done to build healthy social skills.

One great way to socialise comfortably can be to take the attention away from yourself. So, that means having questions to ask. Having a few generic questions you could ask anyone is a great way to start. And from there, fill in the gaps with more specific questions.

For example, a generic question may look like this:

  • What do you feel was one thing that really challenge you so far this year?

  • What was the most difficult decision you had to make this year?

  • Where do you see yourself in 2 years?

  • What do you do when you feel lazy?

  • How do you spend your free time?

These open-ended questions are going to a) tell you the type of person someone is, and b) give you an opening to dive deeper into their response (and ultimately life). Follow up questions might look like this:

  • Do you think that if you had X it would have made your decision easier?

  • What is it that draws you towards that place you see yourself 2 years from now?

  • Do you think there could be a better approach to X?

I love these types of questions because you will end up talking about purposeful and meaningful topics. Not only is it great for the other person to be thinking about these things, but listening to their response it will help you to find your answers to these questions. Invariably, if the other person has an interest in the conversation they will ask you the same question back. If not, do not worry if they leave you in silence. You can respond with something like:

“I really liked what you said about X and feel that it is important in my life too. What I tend to do is…”

Then go on to answer the question yourself.

Or if you didn’t agree or like their response you could say something like:

“I see that X is important in your life and its impact is benefiting you, however in my case that wouldn’t work because…”

This kind of conversation shows compassion for the other person. You don’t need to prove who is right or wrong because you are talking about subjective experiences and everyone is different.

One thing I’m working on is having conversations with people even when we both have different viewpoints and don’t agree with each other. The aim here is to understand why someone feels, thinks, or acts in a certain way rather than having a judging match of who is right.

If you are just starting to realise that you want to “get out of your shell” but do not enjoy the mainstream social places such as bars, clubs, or restaurants then another great way to meet and socialise with people is through voluntary work.

Homelessness, Shelters, and Food banks in the United Kingdom are a big deal due to the increase in utility bills and there are charities that need your help. This is a great way to be involved in an activity that is meaningful to people who need help, meanwhile building connections with those around you.

If this interests you find out more at

Alternatively, have a think and google the type of charity or group activity you would like to be involved in.

Good luck!