Saying the quiet part out loud
2 Aug 2023
have started saying the subtext out loud in conversation (eg. "by the way I'm asking for reassurance" or "this look means I want you to put that down so we can talk") and honestly the success rate in getting what I want is much higher— Oliver Darkshire 🌈 (@deathbybadger) July 1, 2022
“Saying the quiet part out loud” is a phrase I’ve just made up, to describe a method of building alignment on practices within a team. It’s the habit of stating why you are doing things a certain way, even when you would assume it’s obvious.
“We want to do [obviously moral thing] because we are not evil”
“We shouldn't leave shitty comments in code reviews because we want to build a positive working environment”.
It's easy to assume your colleagues a) know these things and b) would do them without prompting.
But it's a form of leadership to state your expectations and beliefs out loud like this. It provides a chance for disagreement and debate by making them public, giving your team the opportunity to challenge your assumptions, or to ask for clarification if their own beliefs don’t align with yours.
It takes confidence in your team to offer your priors up to examination in this manner. But also encourages an open and trusting environment, and a culture of honest feedback.
I've noticed colleagues I admire doing this, and I’m trying to incorporate it into my working habits as well.