I am a soft spoken person. I got to know this word when a recruiter gave me feedback in 2000, when I applied for a consultant position at software company. That’s ok most of the time, except in certain cases we need to be clear: we cannot be vague, and we cannot waiver. Some examples include communicate with clients or customer when we work on a project, we need to be clear about the responsibility of each party, the expectations and the timeline or milestone.
A related topic is the “killer instinct” or “killer attitude”. We all know “killer apps”, the apps that knock the ball out of the park. Similarly, by killer instinct I meant in certain cases, we have no choice but to fix the issue, and we have to deliver. An example is the crisis situation, customer was already unhappy with the situation, we need to turn it around. I had couple instances like that recently. The solution usually involves putting head down, looking at the code, ask question or solicit help as needed. The solution will come eventually.
On the other hand, I have seen very intelligent people that are soft-spoken but don’t have the killer-instinct, or the drive to solve or fix a problem. This is ok, as long as the team has other people with the attribute above. But for the person without that trait, he/she may hit a career glass-ceiling soon. Because in real world, stressful situation/conflict arise and it usually needs that skill.
Last but not least, customer communications. After we fix something, from my experience, no news is usually good news. Because usually if something does not work, we will hear scream quickly. This is ususally true the other way around as well: if we hear something, it’s ususally bad news. Once I made an update on the iOS app, in the process I messed up the number separator, basically it will shrink one’s 401k by 1000 for each calculation. I got angry email quickly.
PS, software update. It’s usually not pain free. Yesterday I was renting a car from a car rental company, btw I happened to work on a related app for the company. Anyway the agent said the software just got an update, and this usually means things won’t be as smooth. He said some new features being added, but in the past he got unknown errors in each update cycle. I told him it’s fairly common for software developers to fix or add one thing, break two things in the process 🙂