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Giving context - a small thing that can make a big difference

joelbennett profile image Joel Bennett ・1 min read

For those of you in management roles, I'd like to recommend a small tip:

Any time you want to talk to someone, give some context for what the discussion will be about.

This holds true for in-person conversations as well as Email, Slack, scheduled meeting invites, or whatever other communication mediums you use. (If it a meeting invite, you really should be providing even more context in the form of an agenda!)

This little bit of context can make the difference between someone waiting in fear for the discussion, or putting someone at ease.

For example, rather than saying "Hey Anne, can I talk to you?" say "Hey Anne, can I talk to you about that last pull request you created?" or "Hey Anne, I have a question for you about that last pull request. Got a minute to talk about it?". Adding that little bit of context can really help put people at ease - especially for anyone who has ever been let go from a job. I'd say that a majority of developers that I've worked with are easily spooked by an ominous sounding "I want to talk to you", especially if it comes from someone up the management tree. Consider it to be proper etiquette for engaging in a conversation, no matter the medium.

Discussion (1)

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enriquemorenotent profile image
Enrique Moreno Tent

Every time that I start a conversation and I do not know the context of the same, I start the conversation by sitting down and saying "Am I fired?" with a smile in my face, just to make it look as it I was actually joking (even though I am not :D)