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marilyn_pratt
Active Contributor

Speaking Tech to Non-Tech Types a Soft  People-Skill Pitch


Is Originality Over-Rated?


When craig.cmehil invited me to have a speaking slot at SAP TechEd 2018 Las Vegas in the Community Space, my first thoughts were: “There’s more than a decade’s worth of wisdom and content accumulated in the community of SAP practitioners, influencers, developers inside and outside of SAP. What insights can I highlight that might be remotely helpful, or unique or original and haven’t already been posted or shared around communication, bridging community, soft skills (people skills) ?

The answer, it would seem is: “very little”.

I took a look at some of the most recent postings (and some older ones too!)

Soft Skills or Human Skills?


Oxford Dictionary defines soft skills as, “Personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.”

Back in 2014 and at the behest of graham.robinson,  I participated in a panel session in Mastering SAP in Melbourne Australia with matt.harding brian.oneill4 jocelyn.dart and jelena.perfiljeva2 the topic: “Is Inclusion a Competitive Business Advantage”

We also had a breakout discussion on upskilling and upscaling skills.

What stuck most in my mind about soft skills lay embedded in Jelena’s session:  IT and Business: The Tough Love Story .  She called those skills: “People skills for “I’m not a people person” people.

(cue laughter and a lot of violently shaking heads in the mostly developer audience)

She gave some guidance to addressing “hostile user syndrome” and accepting that business users “are also human”.

She offered sage advice:

  • Acknowledge

  • Communicate

  • Empathize

  • Share Knowledge

  • Save your sanity…bring the horse to water and leave it there


So what to talk about or explore at SAP TechEd Las Vegas?


Thanks to my life partner (he’s a recovering Rocket Scientist and algorithmic FX trader) I just attended an airshow in NY state last week.  Watching the precision of the pilots made me acutely aware of communication and the deleterious effects of failure to communicate especially in the sophisticated world of technology and aircraft.  It was also a remarkable display of teamwork.



I thought about a quote I had heard from Malcolm Gladwell:
"The kind of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication” –

Avoid “Crashes”

How? by the use of some of these people-oriented techniques

  • Common Ground

  • Resonance

  • Adaptive Agility

  • Story-Telling

  • Humility

  • Empathy

  • Simplicity


I'd love to explore these with you further, here and at SAP TechEd Las Vegas.

Looking forward to the opportunity to learn and engage.

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