125: Communication Skills for Testing and Life with Damian Synadinos

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Damian Synadinos TestTalks Feature

Communication skills are critical for succeeding in anything you do. This is especially true for folks that work in teams that are involved in the creating and testing of software. On today’s show we’ll test talk with Damian Synadinos about his presentation Workshop: Commutication – An Exploration of Idea Transfer with Words. Damian will share ways in which you can improve your communication skills and avoid the misunderstandings that may be preventing your team from creating automation awesomeness.

About Damian Synadinos

Damian Synadinos

Damian Synadinos started testing software—on purpose and for money—in 1993. Since then, he has helped build better software and build software better using various methods and tools in numerous roles at many companies in diverse industries. During the past ten years, Damian has focused primarily on teaching and leading testers and improving processes. Currently, he is the owner and sole employee of Ineffable Solutions, a training and consulting company. In addition to testing, Damian enjoys improv, golf, poker, gaming, acting, cartooning, and spending time with his family.

Quotes & Insights from this Test Talk

  • Commutication…is a portmanteau of the Word “commute” and “communication,” and it’s supposed to serve as a reminder of the similar way we commute, by moving people around in vehicles, and communication is very much the movement of ideas, and sometimes we use words. I created the word “Commutication” as a reminder to people that, essentially, when you communicate, you’re trying to move and transfer ideas, and sometimes we use words to do that. At a high level, the way the workshop was created might help people understand the purpose of it.
  • When I looked at my professional career, my testing career, I realized that communication is an essential part of being a tester. You’re constantly communicating information; that’s our main product, information. We’re information brokers, purveyors of information about the product, about the project, about the risks, about quality, and in order to effectively and accurately convey that information, we should be good communicators. I actually created this workshop to help people better their communication, but it is not really about testing. It could be used to help testers become better testers by improving their communication, but it’s such a general topic that it can help anyone be a better communicator, regardless of what area they’re focused on.
  • Sometimes people come to me with questions, or they want my perspective, or opinion – I’m a sounding board for career advice. After I get to understand them and their problems, I sometimes suggest that they take an improvisational course – an improv comedy course, or an acting course – because, in my experience, I have ten years of professional improv experience, where I performed at comedy clubs and corporate engagements, sometimes for money, sometimes in bars. The things that I’ve learned in improv and theater, and the things that I use on stage, are very applicable to my professional career.
  • One of the interesting things we talk about in the Commutication workshop is ways to recognize when miscommunicating is happening. Sometimes it can be very difficult to even recognize that miscommunicating is occurring. An easy way is if someone says, “What? I don’t understand.” (Laughs) It’s a pretty clear-cut way that someone does not understand what’s being said, what’s being conveyed.
  • QA or the Highway Conference is a regional conference in Columbus, Ohio. We’re coming up on our fourth year, it’s February 7, 2017 this year. It’s a one-day conference. It was started by a guy named Joe Ours, he’s another tester here in Columbus, Ohio. He gathered a group of other testers, we formed a group called COSQAM – Central Ohio Software Quality Assurance Managers – an unwieldy name, for a group of good people. (
  • the number one piece of advice to becoming a better communicator, is ask. It’s the simplest way, but, it’s often the most difficult way, for people to get clarity of an idea. There’s all kinds of social norms and cultural reasons that people may be afraid, or less apt to ask a question, but it is often the most effective way, at simply saying “I need to get more information about this idea, so I know we’re on the same page,” and we make sure that we’re doing deep, deep communication rather than having shallow agreements.


Connect with Damian Synadinos

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  1. Great talk about communication. Something everyone should think about. Also, love QA or the Highway. Great conference for Columbus, Ohio.

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