Alice Richmond – Peace in Tech

Alice Richmondby Alice Richmond, Delivery Manager

Last month (October 2015), I spoke at a conference in Barcelona on the topic of communicating peacefully with teams and clients. Often the phrase “Peace in Tech” is referring to promoting technology that reduces the need for aggressive and peace disturbing manufacturing processes for hardware.

It is so easy to look at tech as a thing that is a physical entity, a gadget or a phone. Using earth damaging and conflict inducing compounds in the creation of our hardware is not the only thing that causes conflict in tech.

Often we need to look much closer to home, to the individuals working within these industries. I have been working on client facing teams since I graduated university. Exposed to lots of face to face communication, I have naturally developed and learned skills that have improved me as an individual and been able to specialize in this with training courses. But what happens when someone doesn’t have this training and is required to work in a team made up from people around the world. How do they communicate their needs, feelings and thoughts?

Soft skills, like communication can be overlooked especially in the tech industry. Some individuals graduating university with extremely high qualifications in Maths, Computer Science and Physics are left struggling with communication. A close friend of mine once said to me “It’s OK graduating with a first in Maths, but try having a difficult conversation or going to a job interview.” I was surprised by this sentence, and that she herself had suffered from a lack of core communication skills.

Recently with the release of Drupal 8, an open source web product there has been a surprise delay. Many of us were brain storming why this could have been the case. One friend of mine mentioned there had been incidents of decisions about the product not being made because of so many disputes.

These disputes were lengthy and reading the tickets it was clear that individuals were struggling to make themselves heard, muted and trapped behind a computer screen. The issue queues became a melting pot for animosity, unhappiness and frustration from a group of amazing people who hold the fantastic mental capability of creating a hugely important product but who struggled to communicate with one another.

My speech was aimed to provide people with the tools that we are not taught at school, ways in which you can find a voice and for it to be heard peacefully and constructively. By highlighting ways in which we can approach those difficult conversations with a non judgmental attitude and an open mind. Encouraging people, to open up their video conferencing and speak to their counterparts “face to face” and to communicate what they needed and felt based on ideas by Marshall Rosenberg.

Drupal is built by a community distributed around the world, those individuals create amazing products.

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing” – Rollo Mae.

Drupal Conference 2015I would like to think working together in an environment free of conflict, which is supportive and open would increase individuals productivity. A community rests on people feeling a sense of belonging to thrive, and without a community there would be no Drupal. My vision is to make the world a more peaceful and happier place one person at a time, so that, inspiring people, can carry on making inspiring products and change the world for the better.

About Alice Richmond: I am a Londoner, a neuroscientist, Uxer and Delivery manager at Wunder UK. I specialize in communication with colleagues and clients to promote a positive interactive culture. My inspiration is Marshall Rosenburg and have been studying his work for around a year now. Recently I spoke a a tech conference to help invoke a change of dynamic in the tech industry.

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