Shouting Into The Void

Tom Hanks shouting at a Volleyball with a Bloody Handprint
Admit it, you can hear this image.

This is why we blog and vlog and instagram. This is why we crave likes and comments and retweets and shares and heart reacts.

  • If a person making a statement on something you’ve said, and you agree, the answer is “Right” or “Roger” or “Ack” or something similar.
  • If any statement you are asked is not a follow-on question, for clarity read it as “ACK”. Pretend the person you are speaking to has only had a volleyball to talk to before you got to them. They just want to share that they know about the thing you do as well as you do.
  • The opposite is true: if you are in general agreement with a person about one of their plans or projects, don’t pollute it with more info. A simple “Okay” or perhaps “Looks like you’ve got this, ask me if you need help” will do it. Let people make their own mistakes.
  • “I would” > “You Should”. One of these shares your own experiences and invites questions. The other talks down over a person and suggests you don’t trust them to do their job.
  • Short-circuit endless arguments with “let’s have a separate conversation about this”.
  • For any conversation with a goal, have an agenda. Callout and response. Follow the structure of it. Let people know that if they have other things to get to, they’ll be gotten to. If people jump ahead, turn them back. Ask questions like “Okay, anything else on this thing specifically?” Even if you’re not the one running the meeting, you can help by only speaking on-topic, and waiting your turn.
  • Count to three before you hit enter in text-based mediums. Re-read the thing you’re about to send for typos, and for clarity. It’s not a race. (I almost wish this were a feature in certain messengers, “hold to send”.)
  • If someone is rapid-firing you, in text, on a zoom call, or even in a face to face, back them off. Feel free to say “I’ll wait for you to finish before I respond.”
  • Answer the question people asked. If it’s yes or no, keep it quick. If it’s more open ended, like “where are we at with this?” start with your summary. “We’re about N percent done. Do you want more details?”




Gushi/Dan Mahoney is a sysadmin/network operator in Northern Washington, working for a global non-profit, as well as individually.

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Gushi/Dan Mahoney is a sysadmin/network operator in Northern Washington, working for a global non-profit, as well as individually.

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