Re: The debate that won't die

Subject: Re: The debate that won't die
From: Jan Henning <henning -at- r-l -dot- de>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 09:41:44 +0100

1. What is more in demand?
A. Technical skills
B. Communication skills

2. Which is less common?
A. Technical skills
B. Communication skills

3. Which is more difficult to learn (access)?
A. Technical skills
B. Communication skills

The answers to these questions are (to me at least) obvious. Technical
expertise is more in demand, it is less common, and it is harder to learn.
Communication skills are in less demand, more common, and easier to learn.

I'm not sure about points 1 and 2, but my personal impression has always been that (good) communication skills are harder to learn than technical skills.

A given set of technical skills of reasonable extent, IMO, can be learned by most people, given enough time. (Although some people may take too much time to fit into a given project.)

Good communication skills not only include the ability to write grammatically correct sentences, they also include things like ordering the material at hand in a logical and accessible way, making sure that all required information is there, and making sure that no superfluous information is included.

These skills seem to be beyond a significant number of people. With some people I have known (even with some technical writers) I had the impresssion that no amount of time would have enabled them to communicate well in the above sense. I'm not sure why this is so; one possible reason may be a psychological inability to put themselves into the shoes of another person (the reader).

Whatever the reason may be, there seem to be more people who do not 'have it in them' to advance above a certain level of communication capability than there are people who are incapable of learning enough about technology.

Jan Henning

Jan Henning
Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

Phone: +49 700 0200 0700, Fax: +49 8179 9307-12
E-Mail: henning -at- r-l -dot- de, Web:

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The debate that won't die: From: Andrew Plato

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