Testimonial #4: Levi from TdT Cluj

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this since I was little….

I never understood why people seemed to enjoy gossip, or why they hurt each other with words, or how words could hurt someone in the first place… I guess what I am trying to say is, I had far too many examples of stories and ineffective communication being used as a tool to hurt, discredit and tear down others.

Sure, I also grew up reading fairy tales, and while I enjoyed them, they seemed to belong in a separate category , full of made up characters and unrealistic situations, I couldn’t really connect them to the day-to-day meaning of stories and communication.

I was also exposed to other people’s “”real-life”” stories too, and I listened to them attentively, but when it came to me to tell a good story, I always seemed to stumble on my own words, I backtracked or got lost in details. I pretty much sucked at it, so I never really learned how to tell a good story, I never studied it’s mechanics, or practiced without fear of making a fool out of myself. I instead retreated further away from small talk, gossip and other forms of storytelling, not really trying to understand their purpose.

This attitude toward communication and storytelling began to change when I became a tester. Communicating my progress effectively, reporting bugs, became one of the key aspects of my role as a tester.

I learned that the people I was interacting with were much more willing to listen to me if I chose to tell them a story instead of
presenting reports, a story about my testing, what I had discovered, how I thought about what tests to perform and how well I thought my testing went.

So I set out to learn how to do this better, and Tabara de testare provided an excellent “”testing”” environment for this. I think attending TdT meetings helped me a lot in practicing storytelling as a skill, especially during the less “”formal”” meetings, the test clinics, and the “”going for beers”” after the meetings themselves (where I could practice with little consequences or fear of failure)

I could share stories about bugs I had found and how I investigated them, I could talk about my testing and to gradually get better at crafting these stories (although I still have a lot to learn)

I also remember one particular TdT meeting that specifically addressed some of the concerns I had about communication. It was held at a local cafe, a very laid back environment where Anto, a “”non-tester””, presented her take on how to deliver Bad News, as we so often have to.

I learned that it is important to address the feelings that come with hearing bad news, how to resist the urge to flee from conflict, and try to communicate these feelings as calmly as possible while making it clear that you are there to help.

I also learned that gossip can be viewed as a “”knowledge management”” tool, not just one that is designed to hurt, that it is important that I knew what I wanted to say, to spend the time to figure it out, before starting to talk, to know what I wanted from a particular conversation, in order to tell whether I achieved what I wanted after the conversation had concluded

The final and probably the most important lesson was that being human oftentimes gets in OUR way of communicating assertively, which is NOT a natural state that we’re in. It requires a tremendous amount of work, and simply KNOWING this isn’t enough, practicing is essential, because communication can ALSO be viewed as an ongoing thing to build relationships with, as well as a tool to getting things fixed!”

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