Re: Make it Pretty for the SMEs You Want to Interview

Subject: Re: Make it Pretty for the SMEs You Want to Interview
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 10:27:28 -0700

Donna Horowitz wrote:
> I on the other hand fight to the end to maintain my respect with my
> SMEs. I don't think it's something you can ever assume, and I think
> you can lose it. Much of it is a matter of trust, and once they trust
> you, they respect what you do even if their way of complimenting you
> does not seem to support that. I always felt that if I'm a
> communicator, I should be able to communicate what I do, well and
> with some degree of finesse despite the instigation or the reaction.

Well said. It's naive to expect respect as a matter of course. You need
to be diplomatic and to know when to speak softly and when to stand

One of the basic points of communication theory is that a discussion is
only partly about the obvious subject. You may think that you're talking
about how the software works, but you are also discussing indirectly
your relation with the SME, both verbally and non-verbally. You may also
be discussing your wish for respect, your frustration at the SME, and
your anxieties about your position in the company. Similarly, the SME
may be discussing what she considers your untimely requests, the fact
that she has other things to do, and her hopes of being respected by the
other programmers for putting you down. In many cases, these other
issues may be more important than the exchange of information that is
the main reason for the interaction. Unless you understand that, you're
going to be frustrated.

Of course, some people are generous enough or focused enough to make the
exchange of information the main point. And, in my experience,the more
competent and secure the SME is, the more likely he or she may fall into
this category. But, while such people are the best to work with, you
can't count on being able to work with them.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com

"Yes, it's hard love, but it's love just the same,
Not the stuff of fantasy, but more than just a game,
And the only kind of miracle that's worthy of the name,
For the love that heals our lives is mostly hard love."
- Bob Franke, "Hard Love" (as sung by June Tabor)


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