How My Failure to Speak Persuasively Stalled My Global Career

A True Story

I’d like to tell you about a bad practice that shaped my career story, rather than a best practice. I love to read, search or study something about my job and spend time on the computer; I find all of them both easy and fun to do. I consider myself as a clever and hardworking person. I’ve never experienced any problems with developing myself more and improving job-relevant skills.

Therefore, I felt like I was ready for a career abroad when I had a project opportunity — on which I found myself very gifted — from a country where I had some relatives from my mother’s family. I got down to business feeling confident. A family friend who had worked with me before provided the contact for me with the company, so I can say I regarded it as a head start. I believed that I made a decent mockup according to their needs as well as thinking that I did the job in a plan within a short period of time without spending too much time on it.

However, when it came to a Skype call, I had one of the worst times of my life, to be honest. Someone, who I think had no idea about the function my job, asked me some questions that made me think he was really clueless. One of the participants asked me to add something that was really impossible to do at the time. I generally hate this kind of thing. I told them what they needed to have and what I could do for them. I talked about my design in a functional way without going into very much detail or using a sophisticated language.

They were really nervous towards the last 5 minutes of the call and we ended it agreeing to get in touch afterward. To me, there wasn’t any problem but I only managed to hear from them with the help of my friend later on. They missed the chance to make use of my project which I believed was very good, and decided not to work with me.

If you look at the feedback, though, they told me that I was the type of person that they wouldn’t want to work with and that they were not quite convinced that my design was understandable and useful. If you now ask me who missed an opportunity, I can clearly say that it was me who missed that opportunity. After around 10 months, I managed to start a global career, but it’s a fact that I had lost the chance to save some money and start a global career 10 months before that.

We, developers, are different. Our world is different. The language we use and the way we communicate are really different. When we meet foreign people, those differences become harder and the number of difficulties increases. You have to demonstrate that you can express yourself in a comfortable way using a proper language.

You need to be good at the common language in order to impress people, but there’s one more thing you need: It’s important to know the phrases so that you can communicate and build rapport more effectively, other than just speaking in that language. I can’t say it taught me a lesson and I changed right away but the communication crisis and the problems about the works that I did in my country, later on, made me believe that I needed to improve a lot. I realized that I needed to have effective negotiation competencies in addition to speaking English so as to have a global career.

I have two recommendations for my younger colleagues: First, work globally, and you have to learn English to do that. Second, learn the ways and phrases to impress people and make them believe in you, accept your work, keeping in mind that we, software developers, are not willing to communicate well.


How My Failure to Speak Persuasively Stalled My Global Career was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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