Communicational skills for Product Managers: Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

Andre Oentoro

The Product Manager role requires communication skills, but there are many gaps in the literature about this. After four years of experience as a Product Manager I decided to share my personal view about communication in the product management area.

I'm aware that there are lots of articles that cover techniques or available tools for communication skills. Some articles also focus on the soft-skills which you need in order to become more productive, like managing priorities and reading people. There are several references dedicated to communication related topics, however most are focused around communication with team members or stakeholders. Of course it is very important how you communicate with your team members when building products together, but what about communication outside of your team? How do you talk with customers? How can you use comms to get value from your customers?

How can you use comms to get value from your customers?

The truth is, communication related topics are hard to find. This blog will cover everything around communication-related aspects of product development and customer success. In short: Let's talk! Let's talk about communication techniques, tools, strategies and how all this will help you add value to your customers.

Communicational skills are key to building a successful product. They can also help you choose whether or not to build a product in the first place!

Doing all of this is hard work, and that's why I'll write about best practices, tools and other insights on how you can become a master communicator.

Communicational skills are key to building a successful product. I've been doing lots of research lately about what makes good communication between humans effective . Are both human beings ourselves we can sometimes forget that we're talking to humans with feelings and brains of their own.

Effective communication is about more than just exchanging information, it's about building a bond – you can't do that if you don't make an effort to understand the other person. And we all know how good it feels when someone really understands and listens to us.

We also use our verbal and non-verbal signals (body language) to convey messages: they may be conscious or unconscious, but they matter nonetheless. Understanding them will help you communicate better with others.

The Product Manager role requires communication skills in a way that is much different from what developers and marketers usually experience. Your ability to influence goes beyond technical discussions, based on solid arguments and common sense, backed up by data. But you should also be able to confront your team members' ideas - because The Best Way™ doesn't always exist .

Just remember: the more effectively you communicate with your stakeholders (up, down and across the organization) - the better chance you have for succeeding in Product Management .

This article provides an overview of communication skills that any Product Manager should master. You'll find here hints for everyday situations, but we've also divided it into N key points that will help you get started right away!

#1 Learn To More Than Speak

To quote a popular movie: talk less, smile more… and then shut the hell up .

In a world where emails make meetings seem unnecessary , Product Managers are always seemingly busy. As a result, we tend to overstay our welcome in conversations by talking too much or asking too many questions - meaning that other people will stop inviting us to lunch (or anywhere else for that matter).

This is why it's essential that you learn how to listen carefully and ask good questions - because you'll be surprised at how often this tactic will bring value just as much as any of your brilliant ideas .

#2. Be a Leader

The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself." In other words, when you're in the role of Product Manager, you're ultimately accountable for making sure that your team's projects are successful.

#3. Know When To Make A Change (And How To Do It)

As mentioned previously , there are plenty of things that could go wrong on any given project. What this means is that if something bad goes down, it's ultimately up to you to make the decision of what changes need to be made (if any) and how they should be executed.

#4. Play Well With Others

This is likely one of the most fundamental skills that Product Managers must possess, as your role will require collaboration with not only other Product Managers but also Engineers, Designers, Marketers, etc. It goes without saying that the more comfortable you are working with others (especially those who don't always see eye-to-eye with you), the better off you'll be when it comes time to execute on projects together.

#5. Know How To Lead Change

It goes without saying that change is inevitable , so an integral part of being a Product Manager is knowing how to bring about change in an organization. As the intermediary between all relevant teams, you should know which levers to pull (or not) when leading such changes and this will require a certain level of assertiveness - which ties nicely into our next point.

#6. Be Assertive

This one can be somewhat controversial but we've seen that Product Managers who aren't assertive enough end up having their ideas shot down too often (and vice versa). Regardless of your levels of assertiveness, Product Managers need to be able to push through decisions and rationalize the impact/benefit of them once they have been made.

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Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).

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