Don’t be boring: business analysts should have social skills

In the business analysis profession, skills, qualifications and an ability to represent one’s self is needed for success. Most professionals I’ve met demonstrate these abilities. However, meeting the above does not mean you are an all-rounder.

A BA is first and foremost a communicator. Therefore social skills must be a priority and they should be a strong characteristic of a BA. With all the interactions with stakeholders, it would be assumed that you will gradually develop social skills over time even without much effort.

This is what I thought until I met a few seasoned business analysts. Without bad mouthing the industry colleagues I admire, I must say that I was under-whelmed with the basic conversation and social skills I’ve witnessed in the few interactions I’ve had.

Perhaps it’s due to a generation gap or maybe the people I spoke to had an overly technical background before working under the BA title. Regardless of the reasons, one must be aware of the attributes that make a great business analyst.

When one enters the BA profession from a previous role that was more technical, it’s important to note that the adjustment involves extending your skills to new areas.

At the very least, as a BA, you should be able to meet and network with other BAs and not appear boring. The art of conversation I believe is a must. Our clients come from different industries and as such have varying topics of focus. Outside of formal meetings, a BA should be able to converse with clients on a more informal level where appropriate. Business analysis requires great perceptive skills so listening and active engagement are part of the job. If one isn’t able to engage strangers in a social setting then I fear how well they would perform their job in a formal one.

On a closing note. I hope this post does not come across as patronising. If you are a BA and have made similar observations about our industry colleagues, perhaps this serves as a timely reminder. If you are objective, do you consider yourself interesting? If so, then there’s a chance you’re not a boring BA. Then again most would consider themselves all-rounders.