It's not obvious

Something has come up recently that has caught me off guard. As we’ve started to onboard authors at The Meteor Chef, all of my preconceived notions about that experience have been challenged. What I thought would happen has not and what I didn’t even consider has.

Nothing bad has happened in particular. The entire experience has been surprisingly positive. Where I got tripped up, though, was in how other people respond to problems. Where I would implement one solution, someone else does the exact opposite. Neither is necessarily incorrect, but different enough that it begs the question “how does that happen?”

While doing a technical edit on an author’s post, I came across a few pieces of code where I thought “I’d do it this way, but they chose this way instead. Why?” In that split second, it clicked: it’s not obvious. What you take as a given, others may not even consider. It’s not that they’re bad at what they do or inferior in some way. Rather, it’s that their brain is simply wired differently. As I start to think about how to manage things like quality control and consistency, this realization has me thinking.

It’s easy to think of your way or your approach as the one that makes the most sense because it’s in your head. It’s bouncing around, constantly reminding you “this is the right way.” It’s not until you interact with others on something that you realize that there’s more than one way to do pretty much everything.

While my initial instinct was to get frustrated, I zoomed out and accepted that there is no possible way for someone to know how I’d approach it unless I articulate it. You simply cannot expect others to do things to your liking without explaining yourself. It sounds obvious writing it now, but in the moment it’s not such a readily available truth. To truly have something explained in your words, from your mouth, puts the clarity of the message on a whole different level.

In order for someone to really get something, to understand it as you see it, you have to teach them. Clearly articulate—patiently—how and why you do what you do. When people know not just what you’re thinking but how your feelings are tethered to it, a different—perhaps better—conversation starts to take place. One where other people are more likely say “oh right, I get it” or ask questions that can be viewed as curiosity and not ignorance or an unwarranted challenge of your ideas.