What are soft skills? They are made up of, for example, communication, emotion, concentration, and common sense. Technical Writers need these skills to get the job done. A Technical Writer today has to possess some technical knowledge, which is equivalent to having hard skills. But the hard skills can’t be accomplished without having some organic soft skills. These right-brain traits are important for Technical Writers. It is being able to see and interpret the whole picture and to translate it into useable and understandable terms for others and that is where soft skills come into the picture.
Why Soft Skills
Technical Writers use their soft skills to gather the information they need to write a clear, detailed, and understandable document. Soft skills are needed to, for example:
- communicate with all levels of an organization,
- ask questions and more importantly, listen,
- understand people as well as the mechanics or processes of a task,
- lead a group of Technical Writers to produce written information,
- verify and confirm facts.
Technical Writers have a passion and an appetite for sharing knowledge and communicating. They have a sense of curiosity and are also respectful of the individuals they are interviewing; the stakeholders, the owners of a written document, as well as their audience. Respecting the culture of an organization allows them to understand the attitude and behavior of their audience and consequently gather relevant knowledge. Technical Writers are very people-oriented and use this soft skill to see what moves and inspires individuals to accomplish goals and to see and understand what is needed by them. Technical Writers are good listeners and empathize with the users, team players, stakeholders, etc.
Technical Writers focus, consolidate, and organize their train of thoughts. They use their sense of concentration to categorize and arrange all their gathered material to execute a good presentation. They also use this ability to see what is required and appreciated by their audience as well as to be able to prioritize their work. In addition, they use this ability to focus on the scope, tone, and quality of a document, as well as its goals, deadlines, and weaknesses.
Technical Writers bring forth their experiences and use their common sense to work with others; to be supportive, honest, open, and to be aware of simply what is good and what is not. They use their common sense to know, for example, what is critical and confidential information. In addition, they use their good judgment and practicality to detect or sense possible conflicts and be able to deliberate them.
From the above, we see then that Technical Writers make use of a lot of different soft skills in order to communicate verbally and via text. They need to be able to speak clearly and to write concisely and to be error free in both categories. Technical Writers can be very technically versed, learned, and be familiar with the most up-to-date technology, but without soft skills, they will have a difficult job.