“If it goes without saying, someone should probably say it.”
How often has this simple advice saved my bacon! No matter how much we share backgrounds, training, and experience, there will always be things we assume other people understand or think of because it’s so natural to us. However, we also know the old saying about assumptions, right?
It makes an ass out of you and…mptions…
Regardless, the fact of the matter remains. There are so many things that seem so obvious they don’t even need to be said, but every time they go unsaid they tend to be disregarded. As a favorite example (because it applies so well in so many places), “Doing nothing is also an option.” How many times have action-oriented people made a problem worse because they couldn’t leave well-enough alone?
Here’s another one that derails arguments and brings about swift resolution: “What do you mean?” Sometimes we use the wrong word, or we use a word that someone in the room thinks means something else, or we fail to enunciate a small but significant detail about a plan that confuses someone. Too often, it starts an assumption war, where neither side understands what the other is trying to say but both are convinced it’s 100% wrong. Simply working out a clarification can solve the problem in seconds.
And finally, since this is a programming blog and all, we can think about the Rubber Duck phenomenon. Sometimes (often), simply describing a problem to a coworker or a rubber duck is enough to trigger that blinding flash of enlightenment that makes your problem magically disappear. Keep it in your head, and it never gets fixed.