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Thursday
Jun212012

Assume you are wrong

Here's a chat conversation that actually happened. See if you can find all the places where each person is telling themselves a story about the other person, and then assuming its true, and notice how volatile the conversation can get in such situations:

A: is it some kind of disrespect @B? nice...
B: what?
A: nothing, I've just asked u a question that u just ignored, so i asked if it some kind of disrespect. i guess so
B: and the answer is in the hipchat which you supposed to have open. you are welcome to open it now and read the answer
A: it is opened, and was opened all that time
B: well, you are not in the room
B: the name of the room is [something] you know.. like the company ;)
You can never assume what the other person's reason for behaving in a specific way is. But we like to tell ourselves stories about why they did or didn't do something, so that we don't have to engage in "real" conversations. 
Always try to assume that the other side means well and has good intentions, and is trying their best, and they have good reasons. Under that assumption, you could see that you'd be right most of the time.
People don't intentionally try to "hurt the project" . You'd be usually wrong to thing someone "doesn't care" or "isn't smart enough to get it" or that "they did it wrong". 
Many times the fault is miscommunication, and if we understand that, we can disarm many conversations that naturally we tend to make worse, when they can be quite pleasant as figuring out a misunderstanding on our part.
How to fix this:
Instead of "is it some kind of disrespect?" you can say "I can't see any answer from you". Simply describe your reality from your side. 
Instead of "The answer is in the hipchat you're supposed to have open" you could say "I did answer. it's in the hipchat room. Does anybody else see my answer? start with "bla..." "
you can see that this can disarm the chat quite easily, because nobody is being blamed for being an idiot here. There are only facts, and tries to figure out why they are different on both sides.
It is much like debugging a situation:
"I can see X on my side. But you can't. Let's see what we missed" 
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