Watch Your Language

I’ve written (and spoken) about the overuse of cynicism in our industry before. It is an issue in general. However, there is a subset of scenarios where I think it harms less noticeably.

I often notice this when advising at bigger organizations where people are not used to chatting with the executives and leadership often. The infrequent conversations and lacking rapport naturally translate to imperfect communications, more so than all parties are usually accustomed to. And in those situations, when an executive (or even your boss’s boss) makes a quip about something they see, it might be understood in a completely different matter than intended.

“So that’s how we do architecture diagrams nowadays? Like in kindergarten?”

“Why are you even researching alternatives, it obviously needs to be X.”

These remarks, usually made offhand, ripple across everyone that’s within earshot. Just the past couple of weeks, I saw teams crack into overtime to redo their presentations or get completely demoralized thinking they just spent days coming up with novel approaches only to be seen as amateurs.

The more respect and authority you have, the more significant the impact your words have. It’s fun to be sarcastic, but it’s also harmful more often than not. Watch it.