The last point made in 10 hard-to-swallow truths they won’t tell you about software engineer job – in the article I’ve been discussing for the past few months – the author ends on a single point that has nothing to do with development or anything related to technology.

You will profit more from good soft skills than from good technical skills.

He summarizes the statement like this:

Technical skills are the ones you can learn easily. … It’s just a matter of practice.

On the other hand, soft skills are much harder to improve. … You must do things you are not comfortable with.

This is something I think is absolutely worth talking about within our industry especially given we’re not just responsible for solving a given problem.

We should be able to articulate the solution to our team or stakeholders, field questions from them, and garner and manage feedback from them to adjust or improve our work (or, in some cases, ourselves).

Soft Skills in Software

If you’ve read the original article, and/or are reading this, and/or are looking for ways to improve your soft skills as a developer working – or aspiring to work – in this industry, there’s a wide variety of things you can do to sharpen said skills.

You don’t have to be scared to give a presentation.

Remember, as stated:

You must do things you are not comfortable with.

Here’s a list of things I found helpful when working to sharpen my soft skills. Maybe at least one of these can help you:

  • In college, I worked as a teacher’s assistant for three semesters during school.
  • Early in my career, I would give presentations and lead discussions on learning new tools, technologies, or paradigms based on things I was reading. This was open to a handful of teams related to the work we were doing.
  • I, and a handful of team members, would host meetups during which we’d given presentations and give practical examples for how to achieve certain things in building web applications, blogging, and so on.
  • I attended as many local meetups as my schedule allowed and tried to participate in every discussion.
  • For several years, I submitted – and gave – numerous presentations at WordCamps.
  • During the same time, I would try to participate in any podcast on to which I was invited.
  • I would participate or lead lunch-and-learns or general meetings over Zoom with those interested in a certain topic.
  • And throughout my career, I’ve tried to regularly blog about the whole process. Though this isn’t directly related to interacting with others in a social setting, I still find it important because it helps you to formulate and articulate your thoughts and this directly feeds back into all of the above.

I’m not making the case you should do all of these. And I’m not claiming any of these weren’t without their own difficulty. But they did pay dividends in a variety of ways and picking just one can go a long way.

Finally, I find this important because I think people who tend to work in our industry are often more comfortable working remote, in isolation, or with headphones on, and would prefer for other people to handle general communication (outside of Slack, Twitter, or whatever).

It doesn’t have to stay that way, though. When there are opportunities for engineers to contribute to communication with others with regard to the problem at hand, it can help the entire project.

On Lack of Soft Skills

In addition to talking about my own experience, there are two points in the article I’d like to address.

On Arrogance and Attitude

I have met a lot of folks who are good with technical skills but awful to work with.

One of the things I thoroughly enjoy about the tech industry – starting as far back as being a student in college – is we are surrounded by incredibly bright people. It’s one of those things we can take for granted but if you foster friendships in the space, you can learn a lot about so many things from so many people.

But not everyone in the space is as friendly or willing to share what they know. (I know the popular word for this is “gatekeeping” but I don’t think that’s relegated to this industry alone, so I digress.)

Don’t be this dude, gatekeeping.

Part of meeting bright people is some of them are very smart, they know it, and this can breed arrogance. And if one isn’t self-disciplined or, simply put, nice enough, they may be insufferable.

The tech industry is larger than it’s ever been before. Unfortunately, this means that for however many people you meet that are smart and willing to help, there are those who are just the opposite.

On Soft Skills and Elevation

With good soft skills, people will like you more and you have a better chance of getting a raise or promotion. If you are technically gifted but hard to work with, your chances are slightly reduced.

Starting with the final point first: I’m not the position to deal with hiring and firing, though I’ve been there before. In my limited experience, those who are difficult to work may still be solid engineers and do an excellent job at problem solving.

Further, they may be extraordinarily gifted thus helping to further the product or service the business is offering. But if that’s not only their core competency but their primary disposition in working, there isn’t much they will offer beyond that.

Additionally, they can negatively impact morale among colleagues. To that end, they will likely stay where they are. And that may be fine for them. My point isn’t that those with caustic personalities be kept down, but that the dynamic of a team should be optimized.

You too can increase team morale and earn a pizza party.

And that leads back to the first point: If a person has good soft skills in addition to solid technical skills, they are likely going to want to help others, be willing to learn from someone who is willing to teach, and communicate with other people both in and outside the business, too.

On top of that, they are likely going to be willing to participate in events that can benefit a product, service, organization, or themselves (which can then bring a net positive back to the team).

Those who end up elevating all of the above often find themselves elevated in position, compensation, or both.


For all of the articles on the web for furthering ones career in this industry, there could stand to be more that deal with with the topic of soft skills.

I hope the content both in this and in the one I reference are helping to contribute.

They benefit you personally, they benefit your team, your organization, and can ultimately lead to a multiplicity of net positives across your career.


In the first article for this series, I stated:

And maybe I’ll work a few articles with my experience on each of these points. It’d be likely be 10 short reads, but it’d be something.

But I obviously didn’t keep it short. Nonetheless, these are all relevant points to those doing some type of engineering in the WordPress space (even if the majority of my work is now focused on backend services).

For those interested, here’s the list of all of the posts from this series.

  1. What Do You Expect From Being a Software Developer?
  2. Colleges Don’t Teach Useful Software Development (Do They?)
  3. You Rarely Get Greenfield Projects (Or Do You?)
  4. No One Cares About Clean Code (Or Do They?)
  5. You Will Sometimes Work With Incompetent People (Or Will You)?
  6. Meetings Are Inevitable (Quality and Frequency Vary)
  7. It’s Hard to Estimate Writing Code (And Always Will Be)
  8. Working in Software Is Better Than Hardware (Bugs Are Part of the Job)
  9. Is Uncertainty the Toxic Friend in the Relationship of Software Development?
  10. Disconnect From Your Job (It’s Not Impossible)