Learning to speak less

I often wish I had a log of my deeply held opinions. More often than not, they didn’t merit the thought and effort I put into sharing them. What’s worse, doing so took time from advocating against actual mistakes. I’ve come to realize often you’re better off letting your work do the convincing.

This isn’t to say we should never share our opinions. I truly believe in the saying, “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. Stating your opinions in public, facing the scrutiny that comes with that is a great way to learn and find a new perspective. You might otherwise never be intellectually challenged. Before you know it, you to believe that yes, people do really want to add a suffix to all their types and interfaces, MyTypeT or MyInterfaceI.

Still, in my experience, “If you need to justify your success you’ve failed.” The same is true for your opinions. They’re just that much less convincing at the end of a long-winded explanation. People prefer actionable, easily understood examples.

Not unlike this post. A tweet would have sufficed, but here we are.

Some actionable things I’m putting into practice to improve my suggestion/adoption ratio:

  • Ask a question instead. Answer it yourself in your head first and make sure it’s worth asking. Then, in the process of answering, folks will often come to the same conclusion as you.
  • Be as brief as possible. People don’t have time to care about your motivations. Don’t make them think too hard.
  • Always provide examples. Often disagreements arise from miscommunication. Examples help illustrate what you’re thinking.
  • Will it burn? If doing nothing won’t break something, let it go. Acknowledge it but don’t be a blocker. If it becomes a problem, tackle it then.