Experience report about how to learn soft skills and why they are important

Xplorafory test

April 3, 2020
Experience report about how to learn soft skills and why they are important

Experience report about how to learn soft skills and why they are important

Soft skills become more important in today’s cooperative environments. I mentioned this in my first blog post and promised to come back to the subject, so here we go.

In a previous assignment, I learned it both through real experience and by studying the subject at the same time. I had three resources for this my mentor Markus Strolz, a book by Henrik Fexeus “How to get mental superpowers” and the podcast Boss level. All three served an important role with different aspects and it was interesting to see how things I learned helped me.

Experience report in soft skills

How the resources helped me

My mentor for peppering me when I was in the middle of it and it felt like I was struggling against a wall. The book to develop my mental and social skills, which helped me to get the skills I needed to succeed in my mission. The podcast as a retrospective where in many cases I realized why I had trouble getting through changes and what I should have done differently.

Starting point

I joined a team that had no experience working agile before and we would change the way we work for SAFE and be an agile Scrum team. The type of testing performed was scripted testing and ad hoc testing which was more of experience-based testing to confirm the requirements.

I put together a presentation about why we should do more exploratory testing and start using the automation framework that existed instead of the manual scripted testing. Some agreed, some understood but said we didn’t have time to do it and most people thought it was a stupid idea.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

Why it’s hard to make people change their mind

Think about how long it took you to get the knowledge you have today? Then imagine that you will make a one-hour presentation to a team and after that they will all change and agree on everything you say. It takes time to change people’s minds and it is also easier to show the positive effect by setting a real example or letting them experience the differences. Another thing that usually affects a lot is the corporate culture that exists.

By the time I joined the team, most had been there for about 2 years even though they still wanted to work as the company had done since ancient times. A legendary management consultant by the name of Peter Drucker once said that “Culture eats breakfast strategy” and that was really the case here.

challenges in teststing

Challenges I had to deal with

My biggest challenge was that I had a very inexperienced team to deal with who almost only had experience working with scripted testing. They also had no experience of testing a project from start to finish, so they had major problems understanding the difference between integration testing, system testing and so on.

We often got into hot discussions and the tone became louder and louder and finally we screamed at each other. No good tactics at all, this is where the book from Fexeus came into the picture

How things started to change

I read a chapter on how to control your emotions and there I was told that if you get upset you just waste energy and you get nothing out of it. I also learned how to read the emotions and reactions of a group and how to act depending on the reactions. This was with the help of the book in combination with the podcast.

I also realized instead of focusing on convincing them, I should let them explain for me why we should keep working as before. Then they needed to argue for why it was better to only do scripted testing and skip Exploratory testing and why we should not automate the scripted test cases. They had a hard time arguing for their opinion.

how to succeed in testing

How I finally succeeded

Now they insisted that I was too inexperienced by this project compared to those who had been there longer than me. I took a step back and worked like them for a couple of weeks just to get rid of that argument.

Then I managed to get a session with Exploratory Testing for a release and we found so many bugs so they were amazed. Now they could no longer deny that we would not do explanatory tests, especially since we found problems in features that they tested with script tests and claimed that it worked well.

I also started to automate some of the scripted test cases to show them how much faster it was to test it this way instead. They finally realized that we needed to do it too and accepted that we started doing it too.

how to learn soft skills and why they are important

What did I learn?

One thing was to handle my feelings and also to read others feelings and adopt your actions to the situation. I also realised that it takes time to change a team’s minds, you don’t do it just over one day. One of the best ways of doing it is to let them experience the differences them self. I also remembered during this process that I was also sceptic first time I heard about Exploratory Testing until I had tried it out for real.

I also learned how important it is to do retrospectives of your work, in my case it happened by listening to the podcast Boss Level that often talked about subject I had experienced. It then made me realise how I should have acted differently in many situations and some of them I was able to use in a later stage in the assignment.

I also realized how good it is to have a mentor who can help you with advice and who you can also talk to. He also helped me keep my mood up when I started to feel that this would never work, but he kept me going.


Soft skills are important, and you can never get to much of them. A new tool or a new testing technique you could always learn in a couple of weeks. But if you have a hard time to cooperate with other people due to bad social skills that is harder to just learn like that.

To enlighten the meaning more a friend who started working as a manager. He said that what he had to spend most of his time on was people’s problems, for example that two people could not cooperate. That people lack technical skills was almost never a problem, you can always learn that.


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