Jake Worth

Jake Worth

Be a Better Technical Consultant by Saying "I Think That..."

Published: January 19, 2022 • Updated: January 31, 2023 2 min read

  • consulting

An idea I find useful as an individual contributor is starting my consulting with this phrase: “I think that…“. The idea is to let your arguments stand on their own, rather than appealing to your experience.

I think a mark of a mature engineer is having strong opinions, weakly held, that you can articulate.

Having some experience is a conundrum. You know a lot of good and bad ways to do something, but you can’t just download your expertise onto someone else. If you don’t share it wisely, it’s easy to sound pessimistic, preachy, or arrogant.

Here are some examples of doing this right:

  • “I think that creating a ‘dev’ branch is too much process for our team size.”
  • “I think that this duplication is fine because we don’t yet know the right abstraction.”
  • “I think that we should remove this refactor because it distracts from the pull request.”

The reason this works is that you’re forcing yourself to make an argument, rather than retelling old war stories. You’re arguing for an idea instead of saying “you don’t understand this yet.”

It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen an idea fail a hundred times. Anti-patterns exist because they seem like good solutions. Instead of appealing to your experience, demonstrate it by making a strong argument.

What are your thoughts on this? Let me know!

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