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Sloan's Inbox: Any advice for calming an opinionated contributor? 😬

Hey folks! Sloan, DEV Moderator and mascot. I'm back with another question submitted by a DEV community member. πŸ¦₯

For those unfamiliar with the series, this is another installment of Sloan's Inbox. You all send in your questions, I ask them on your behalf anonymously, and the community leaves comments to offer advice. Whether it's career development, office politics, industry trends, or improving technical skills, we cover all sorts of topics here. If you want to send in a question or talking point to be shared anonymously via Sloan, that'd be great; just scroll down to the bottom of the post for details on how.

Let's see what's up this week...

Today's question is:

I'm maintaining a project and am lucky to have quite a few different helpful contributors who regularly assist. That said, there is one contributor in particular who can be extremely opinionated and a little bit difficult to work with. They've assisted me throughout and spent a lot of time on the project, so I want to respect the work they've put in, but I also think they feel a bit too much ownership and I've seen them down-talk other newer contributors. I'm trying to approach this diplomatically and would appreciate any advice!

Share your thoughts and let's help a fellow DEV member out! Remember to keep kind and stay classy. πŸ’š

Want to submit a question for discussion or ask for advice?Β Visit Sloan's Inbox! You can choose to remain anonymous.

Top comments (4)

marissab profile image
Marissa B • Edited

This looks like two problems. Talking down to new folks isn't okay and it's worth addressing directly (preferably in private if this is the first time). I'd look at it like a two-parter where you point out the issue and ask what's up to see if something is bugging them:

Hey, I appreciate that you want to help the newbies, but lately you've come off as frustrated and harsh towards them. Is there something I can do to help? We want to enable them to do well, which needs a more helpful tone.

As for the ownership bit, addressing that is harder because the post doesn't have a ton of info and it might not be about a direct "incident", but this might be some inspiration:

I appreciate what you've done for (project). I'd like to balance the load between contributors to make sure everyone gets an equal chance to pitch in. Do you have thoughts on how we can share the workload?

Reminding them that there are other people with significant contributions can bring them back down to earth a bit. Your mileage may vary depending on the situation and individual, but hopefully those help with a starting point!

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

The way I do it :

Hello Franck,
Sorry, I realize I don't really understand what it is that you are suggesting.
Can you clarify again what problems that our users have would be solved using your appproach ?

yowise profile image

How does that person's behaviour make you feel? πŸ€”
Are the person's opinions (not) valuable/ relevant for the project?
What exactly do you mean by down-talk? Is the person aware of that way of talking?

If you haven't already tried, ask yourself these questions. 😺

By the way, nice post!

ssukhpinder profile image
Sukhpinder Singh

Active listening, progressing towards common ground on the gap and finally acknowledging their inputs..!!