Why communication is scary

June 8, 2018

I have never been very strong when it comes to communication, because it is actually really difficult and uncomfortable. Let me explain with an example: Lets say we need to develop a product and you think approach 1 is great and your colleague thinks approach 2 is great. There are a few options how to solve this:

Option 1: Just skip the uncomfortable discussion and hack away and hope you can code faster and show by example. Hmmm… believe it or not this actually can work. Especially for short lived projects where essentially one person is enough to carry the project. But it is sure to cause some thick blood between you two and for the time when you need to work together for longer, you will be wasting a lot of time working against each other, because the clarity was not established. It is not a great approach, maybe for hackatons or quick projects, but otherwise you will run into issues.

Option 2: So you decide to gather the courage and sit together to discuss the approaches. Best case scenario: you compare the fact and either agree that one of the approaches suites you better. In this case you have hit the jackpot, it will make the development a lot better since you managed to agree to a solution up front.

Option 3: You decide to discuss and present the facts you believe are relevant and … in the end neither side is convinced. Because mostly in life there is no right or wrong. Even if we like to believe as computer scientists that we are able to determine the right and wrong by comparing some arbitrary facts. Mostly it is really just what you think is the best and what someone else thinks, it does not need to be the same. Many approaches work, you understand their argumentation, they understand yours. And this is the scariest part, the stalemate, where you should (or maybe should not?) enforce your approach on theirs. In reality it is just forcing your will on theirs, either by just not giving in until they will (battle of endurance) or just overpowering them with your intensity. And this is what I dread, because it is exhausting, uncomfortable and the result is unknown, it might lead to conflicts etc. And I think many find it uncomfortable, and either always give in or try to escape back to some non relavant “facts”.

Ultimately it is up to you how you solve this. But in most cases we need communication and alighment, so we need to risk landing in the stalemate where we confront others and enforce our vision on theirs. And we just need to get comfortable with it and not be afraid. It builds character and will benefit you in many ways.