You don't know what I haven't told you

When I’m explaining a new feature or work item to other developers I get into the habit of thinking the person I’m talking with has all the information about the client or project that I do. It’s far too easy to assume that they understand every detail of a project or client or know the history behind them, but in reality they don’t know what I haven’t told them yet. A fact I often forget about. Especially with remote workers, typing things out in detail is a lot more time consuming and takes more effort then if we were sitting at a table next to each other where you could stop me mid sentence to ask what I’m talking about. That’s hard to do in a chat message.

Everyone has different knowledge and understanding of any given project we’re working on, so I try to keep the thought that nobody knows what I’m talking about at the front of my mind when trying to communicate with my coworkers. This helps me to provide a clear and detailed background, instructions, expectations and to make sure the people I’m working with have the information they need to do their jobs. One of the most important things I do is to avoid assuming people know what I’m talking about. This works well for both work and my personal life. I’ve learned never to assume that the person on the other end of the keyboard or table understands every detail of the thing we’re talking about or knows the history behind it. Instead, I have to remember to slow down and take the time to provide context and background information, even if it seems trivial to me.

Providing details is key to effectively communicating what I’m talking about. I make sure my instructions are clear, concise, and easy to understand. Depending on the audience, I’ll try to avoid using technical jargon or acronyms that people might not be familiar with. This works well in the organ transplant space where acronyms are everywhere.

So, in the end I try to reminder to make sure everyone knows what I’m talking about and that being effective communicator is crucial to the success our projects. Avoiding the assumption trap and providing details, no matter how much extra typing I have to do, I’m able to ensure we’re all on the same page and working toward the same goals. With that clear communication, we’re able to build great things and solid high-quality products without wasting client dollars asking question over and over again.