This is the second post on my ongoing series of soft skills I learned at work, with the first one here.

Since my original plan was to post in this series on a weekly basis, there would be roughly five items for discussion. However, not all posts are like so. For one thing, I realized I probably should post less negative thoughts and embrace more positive ones (especially after reading the book Disrupted—my book review here), I’d filter out some negative comments here. For a second, on some days I am really really busy, and I don’t actually have time to think about what I learned for the day. Third, there are other days where the work is just so detailed and specific, and I perhaps spent a whole day focusing on the task and don’t actually have any learning on soft skills. Anyway, the series would go on.

Keep silent when others are about to say what you want to say about some thing negative

Another team in our org is working on a fancy project, so they are pretty actively reaching out to other teams to sell what they are building. “Let’s have a chat and see what problems our project can solve for you.” Our team is one of those whom they contacted. There obviously wasn’t a perfect match. We discussed this in small group meetings, and most would quickly draw such a conclusion. However, due to their enthusiasm for their project, they repeatedly asked us to evaluate “what would your system change to use our project?” So one engineer on our team was assigned to perform such an evaluation.

When the result came out, we became more convinced using this project won’t be a big gain, and this project only solves a very small portion of our problems, and opens doors to more problems. On the final meeting, my teammate essentially reiterated the concerns we had initially.

I kept silent during the meeting. It appeared to me that people hate you very much when you say something is impossible / isn’t worth it / isn’t our priority / … — essentially anything they don’t want to hear. Maybe that’s human nature. Not all people would distinguish whether you are stating facts or hurting feelings.

People might listen to you if you make your points clear and soften your stance

On another occasion, I was debating with a teammate about a particular approach to solving a coding related issue. This time, instead of trying to tell him where his approach would fall short, I instead directly talked about what I was thinking the approach would be. I stated my points clearly, and in the end, I asked him if there are concerns that my approach won’t work. He can’t find any, and we gladly reached a conclusion.

Would I alternatively keep discussing on his solution and asking questions about it, it may let my teammate feel that I am challenging him. Also, whenever I ask something, we’d inevitably be bogged down in the discussion on details—which may not quite help.