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Soft Skills That Help In Technical Writing

Posted by
Anastasia in Self-Development on 4/12/20194 min read

Conversation

Soft skills are often overlooked in technical writing. People start seriously working on them only when a situation becomes dire. Like, when you realize that you are so bad at time management that this affects your career growth.

Being proactive with soft skills is awesome as they can make your career journey so much easier, prevent burnouts and boost performance.

In this article, we will talk about soft skills for technical writers and how to start developing them today.

Communication

Discussion

Technical writers need to communicate a lot more than one would think. Doc teams can have a job-related conversation with any department in a company, but, of course, the main channel of communication leads to subject matter experts or SMEs for short.

Communication as a notion consists of many aspects. Let's take a look at some of them:

  • Ability to ask the right questions. A very important skill. With the right questions, the answers will be more on point and you will spend less time systemizing and categorizing all the information you got.
  • Patience. All people are different and this creates obstacles to clear communication on its own. On top of that, we are only human, so, mood swings and personal matters can interfere, too. Even the best of us are not always able to stop our inner state from influencing our work. So, you should be patient with others and yourself. Some people need more time to process things, some have a tendency to drift away from the subject in a conversation, others might just have a lot on their plate at the moment.
  • Active listening skills. This is a huge topic in itself. There is no way you benefit from a conversation if you can't listen. Here's what you should pay attention to:
    • Eye contact is very important (just don't make it uncomfortable).
    • Nodding your head slowly can demonstrate that you are listening.
    • Don't fold your arms - crossed arms is a clear sign of you being closed off from what the other person has to say.
    • Keep your hands still. Holding a pen or a cup might help.
    • Use neutral sounds to encourage your opponent to keep talking. The sounds like 'uh-huh’ or just 'mmm’ will do.

These skills are actually pretty helpful in your everyday life, too.

Curiosity

This soft skill is not a must-have, but it helps technical writers to stay motivated at work. Not all topics you write about are exciting, but staying curious can get you through the most boring and hideous content! Also, curiosity is a true remedy against burnouts at work.

Some people are born curious, others can keep up! Here's our advice:

  • Keep an open mind about things.
  • Don't start off any assignment by labeling it as 'boring’. By labeling something you are preparing your mind to a certain kind of experience and this can influence your perception.
  • Don't take everything for granted and dig deeper. By questioning things you get to understand and learn more about any subject in quite an entertaining way.

Time Management

Time management

This is a very important skill in our age of agile help authoring. And, since most types of technical documents are bound to product release dates, for the majority of technical writers, time management is the key soft skill.

Our perception of time can change due to many factors, but this isn't something you can tell your manager if you always miss the deadline. One of the best ways to improve the time management skill is attending some training. For example, here's one from Coursera - Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity.

The rest depends on how much effort you are willing to make to implement these tools and techniques into your work process.

Ability to Concentrate

Creation of technical documents requires a lot of concentration. Luckily, there are many things that can help technical writers with that. Here's what you can start doing right now to concentrate better:

  • Keep your workspace clean. Keeping it minimalistic would be perfect, too. Small things you store on your desk can be distracting. But, of course, we are all different, so, if minimalism is not your cup of tea, then just declutter your environment from time to time and you will be just fine.
  • Listen to music. Preferably something without words, something rhythmic that can put you in the right mindset. Low-fi, ambient music can boost your productivity. Also, researchers state that classical music is great for concentrating.
  • Take short breaks. You can't be perfectly concentrated all day long, your brain needs some rest. Short breaks are vital for staying productive.

Conclusion

That was our take on the most useful soft skills for technical writers. Of course, your list of must-have soft skills can differ. Different work processes and professional fields pose different challenges. We will be happy to hear what you think about the top-needed soft skills in technical writing, leave your ideas and share your experience in the comment section below.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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