Gerald Ford once said “Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.” What a profound statement that not only applies to our personal lives but also how far we go in our IT careers. There’s hardly anything that can cause IT Geeks to lose their audience – and our credibility – more than talking over people’s heads with tech-speak at all the wrong times.

I’ve found over the years that the number one skill to help those of us in IT succeed more than anything else is being able to communicate effectively with others. When studies show that communicating effectively with others accounts for the majority of our success, why wouldn’t we do it? That’s the $64,000 question.

I suppose IT professionals have a tendency to speak over people’s heads because we’re eager to share our knowledge and end up forgetting about the technical skills of the people we’re talking to. Maybe it’s because we’ve yet to realize our full potential as business professionals. Some is no doubt ego related. Regardless of the underlying reasons, we’ve got to stop it if we’re going to get people our side.

Here are some examples of what I’m referring to along with the message that really needs to get across:

IT Geeks speak:
A VLAN configuration issue has surfaced between our new Web app and the SQL back end.

What management needs to hear:
Our network configuration needs adjusting before we go live.

IT Geeks speak:
Our website is being DDoS’d.

What management needs to hear:
Our network is under attack.

IT Geeks speak:
SQL injection is present and it appears that a database table has been dropped.

What management needs to hear:
We missed a big security flaw and someone has exploited it.

Management doesn’t buy into web security nearly enough. And we’re part of the problem. Make the decision today to become a better communicator. Speak on the level of your audience not just blindly shove what you know down people’s throats. Doing so can provide unimaginable returns. You’ll get the web application security buy-in you need and it will help you with ongoing support moving forward. I can guarantee that fine-tuning this soft skill is something you won’t regret.

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Kevin Beaver

Kevin Beaver, CISSP is an independent information security consultant, writer, and professional speaker with Atlanta, GA-based Principle Logic, LLC. With over 32 years in IT and 26 years in security, Kevin specializes in vulnerability and penetration testing, security program reviews, and virtual CISO consulting work to help businesses uncheck the boxes that keep creating a false sense of security.

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