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I'm Not Sure What You Heard is What I Thought I Said

The name J.B. Rainsberger is a familiar one for those who frequent Extreme Programming community sites. As the author of JUnit Recipes: Practical Methods for Programmer Testing , he's frequently found helping teams improve their technical skills. But it's not all technical!  There's nothing like self-organizing teams, and  pair-programming  in particular, to stretch and develop our interpersonal communication skills. A frequenter of the AYE conference, it's not surprising to find Rainsberger applying tools like the Satir Interaction Model as a team building skill. In this InfoQ article,  Rainsberger uses an amusing North American holiday scenario to show how he uses the model to diffuse a complex verbal interaction.

As if communication itself isn't challenging enough, our workplaces are also full of jargon - business domain jargon, product jargon, developer jargon, etc. So, we're not surprised when there's communication - but are we equipped to spot it and address it when it happens, instead of rolling our eyes and citing Murphy's Law?

Virginia Satir (pronounced sah-teer' ) was a noted American author and psychotherapist, known especially for her approach to family therapy. Her ideas are now also applied to leadership in business. And, while the model presented by Rainsberger is a useful tool for personal understanding, its true power in the workplace lies in learning and applying it as a team. Everyone on an Agile team must be or become a leader, so we must all become skilled in conflict resolution - there is often no "boss" to step in and clear things up for us.

There's no need to wait to get back to the office - Rainsberger makes an invitation that you can start using right away!
I invite you to practice using Virginia Satir's interaction model ... The more you analyze these conversations, the more quickly and easily you do it, and the more deeply you understand the people around you. When used on the job, this technique helps you build trust, which is the first step towards building an effective team.
Read the InfoQ article Don't Let Miscommunication Spiral Out Of Control by J.B. Rainsberger for further details and pointers to more resources.

And, for those of you taking time off at this time of year, here's a holiday wish for you: love, laughter and peace-full communications.

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