IP: Technical skills are what’s important! Not something else!
Me: I agree, but they are not the only important thing nowadays in order…
IP: No, they are, and one must focus on them in order to be successful in the IT field!
Me: Yes, you’re right, but they are just not enough!
IP: I think they are more than enough. If I possess the needed technical skills, I can get to whatever level in my career I want!
Me: I cannot agree here. You also have to posses other types of skills in order to get ahead and advance!
IP: Yes? Like what?
Me: Like soft skills, for example!
IP: And why do I need soft skills if I want to be the greatest SQL Server professional on the planet? (now we’re talkin :))
Me: Because if you are good communicator, for example, you are going to be able to achieve quite more than if you aren’t!
IP: And how is that possible? Why should I spend the time and money reading articles or attending courses on soft skills when I can invest those same resources in deepening my technical knowledge?
Me: You can easily do that, but by being a good communicator you are going to be not only more productive(because you are going to be able to talk and understand the users and the other teams involved in the development process better), but you are also going to understand “your thing” better!
IP: Wait, wait! How am I going to understand “my thing” better? What do you mean?
Me: Have you ever tried to explain a hard concept to someone?
Me: OK. Have you ever tried to teach someone from your teammates something then?
IP: No, that’s not what I do. I work with databases. I fix problems and I think I do my job pretty well!
Me: I am sure you do, but why don’t you try to show and explain to someone a concept, methodology or a feature, for example? Actually, do you know what – let’s try now! Tell me more about how is SQL Server actually working?
IP: Ammm… what?
Me: Just explain it to me, I am really curious! How is SQL Server working? Can you tell this to me? I would really appreciate it!
IP: Am… OK. So many applications are nowadays using SQL Server as backend server to store their data. You connect your application to the SQL Server instance by putting it’s name in the connection string of the application.
Me: That’s interesting! What is an “instance” of SQL Server?
IP: An instance is like a separate installation of SQL Server.
Me: And how many instances can I have on a server?
IP: Aaam… I am not sure exactly. A lot probably. I have never checked.
Me: OK, and once I have the instance, is there only one way to write that “connection string” you mentioned?
IP: No, it’s not just one of course. It depends on a lot of stuff. For example if you are using database mirroring or AlwaysOn Availability Groups, it can be different.
Me: That’s really interesting! Can you show me some connection strings and what’s the difference?
IP: I need to Google/Bing them first. I am not 100% sure about all the attributes and their names at the moment.
Me: You see? When you try to explain something to someone it gets hard, because you have to know even more than you think is needed!
IP: OK, that’s true, but those are details. Why do I have to know them? I can just search them on the web!
Me: I totally agree! That was just an example! You can be in a similar situation if someone asks you to explain to him the system type pages of SQL Server, what they do and why they are important. Don’t you think?
IP: I know those, but I am not sure if I am going to be able to explain them, so that someone will understand them easily.
Me: Exactly! And now imagine that you know them very, very well and you are able to explain each of the system pages in a database with just 1 sentence per page type. Isn’t that great? Isn’t that showing that you know “your stuff”? I thought that this was what you are really after!
IP: I think you are right. I have to think about it…
Me: Indeed. Spend the time and think about it, but also think about what’s going to be if you are a good time manager too? What’s going to be if you are a great speaker and great communicator? How better will that be and how much amazing results it will help you deliver?
IP: I don’t know. I probably have to at least start considering it and probably give it a shot.
Me: Yeap, you do. Indeed you do!
Final takeaway – being a technical guru is important, but not enough if you want to play on the top of your game. Nowadays, you just have to posses other types of skills too and soft skills are just one of them!
Thanks, Michael, for hosting #52! Quite an unusual idea, but an interesting one and I really enjoyed it!