Assume Good Intentions

Email and text messaging are cold. It’s easy to assume the person on the other side of the screen is aggressive or upset or thinks poorly of you, and respond in kind.

Many years ago, I worked on the SCons build system. Much of the development occurred on mailing lists. Every so often someone would come in, guns blazing, asking why X was so bad or why Y didn’t work. The project lead, Steven Knight, always managed to either get useful information from the person or, if they were truly trolling, deflect and ignore the onslaught.

I once asked him how he did such a great job keeping the community calm. He said “I assume everyone has a good heart.” If a person comes in with a problem or does something you don’t like, gently figure what the real issue is. It’s probably something you can solve.

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