Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shut Your Mouth!

Those of you who know me, know that I have a tendency to talk a bit. I've been counseled by many (wife, friends, co-workers, etc) to keep my thoughts to myself but I still have a "problem" with it.

I've been known to send out emails late in the night to my CIO...only to do the same exact thing a couple of weeks later at the start of a holiday.

Just a little advice here, if you do decide to do something like this. Don't do it on Friday night where you have all weekend to think about whether or not you should have sent it. Especially don't do it on a Friday night if you have Monday off too.

Starting a blog helped, a little. I could scream out into the nothingness that is the 'tubes. There wasn't as much back and forth as I would like though. It's gotten better over time as more and more people read this blog, but nothing can replace that instant gratification of a healthy discussion.

And healthy are the ones I am talking about. I don't (necessarily) mean that I just talk to talk. I have opinions on just about everything software related. Architecture. Design. Style. Best Practices. Performance. I'm even worse when it comes to databases. I think I have a pretty good grasp of how to model data. I've been creating diagrams since before I became an IT guy. I understand when it is good to normalize and when it is good to denormalize.

I am very passionate about what I do. I love what I do. Every other week I get a paycheck and I'm stunned that someone pays me to do this.

You know what, if they're gonna pay me all this money, I'm not so sure they want me to keep my mouth shut.

The usual caveat: When a decision is made, with or without my input, I will keep my mouth shut about it. Either I accept the decision or I start looking for other work...that's my decision to make. But I won't be that guy who keeps arguing the point long after. At least I try not to be, I ain't perfect.

It also goes without saying that not all people are equal in a discussion. Some have strengths that others do not.

I think a good discussion can lead to better products. There is plenty to be learned through good discussion. A multitude of view points can force you to reconsider your own position; possibly strengthening it for future debate or forcing you to abandon that idea.

How could that ever be bad?

Not everyone feels the same way of course. Not everyone likes these types of discussions. Either they feel that it's not my place to disagree (i.e. I'm not qualified) or they just don't like being challenged. If my boss says stop, I stop. If a peer says stop I'll ask why.

So, do you know how to keep your mouth shut? Any good stories of how it went bad? or good? Please share...there's much to learn from the discussion.


Kris said...

well, you know me...i'll cut my head off and throw it at you to win an argument...


Riordan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clever Idea Widgetry said...

I just post the most vile shit I can on Twitter and then no on could possibly stand reading it all. That's my professional safety net.

jbl said...

A buddy of mine used to say: "Be a man; keep your mouth shut." It's a lesson I learned far too late in life.

oraclenerd said...


It has merit of course. What's the saying? "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt"

Needless to say I have done just that. I have however learned that I do have an area of "expertise" and that I can speak intelligently about it. If there's a conversation on SOAP/REST/whatever, I usually do just that, keep my mouth shut. 94% of the time I know when I don't know something.

What fun is life though if you can't have a good argument once in awhile? ;)

Lucian Badea said...

I involuntarily use silence as a form of total disdain or disapproval. If I can't speak about something it is because I am thinking "That's the dumbest thing I heard today". I am experiencing this surreal silence only few times a week, so I guess it's not that bad after all.

Cd-MaN said...

My solution to the problem was (a) blog and (b) get a job that you are not-so-passionate about. Don't get me wrong, I still aim to deliver high quality work, just that I try very hard to keep my emotions out of it. If it's not in my job description, it's not my problem.

Niall said...

@oraclenerd's 94% of the time comment.

everyone should read, self-critically, it may be that we only really think we know about areas that we don't know about!

Bradd Piontek said...

I'm talkin' 'bout Shaft.

I've never been fired or down-sized (knock on wood). Maybe I keep my mouth shut too much :)

oraclenerd said...


Great to see you here! I miss working with you. I always though we made a great team.

I do practice silence, only it's the minority of the time. I have those same thoughts.

I had a pretty good first role model, what I build, what we build, is for the company and myself. That's the angle I tend to come from.

I'll say it again and again though, I'm not always right and I don't think I pretend to be...but I love to ask questions and discuss (argue?) a point.

oraclenerd said...


Thanks for the article. I have heard that basic tenet before, the quote: "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

How do you tell someone that they don't know? As my wife said the other day, "Never try to teach a goat to sing. It wastes your time, and it annoys the goat."

oraclenerd said...


I don't know how you separate it. I have a very difficult time doing so. It would be nice to not be so emotionally attached...but if a company hires me, I expect that they want the most out of me.

Sunny said...

i disdain most human existence, except when i drink, then i am a bitter mean yet romantic tender hearted wretch...go figure :)

oraclenerd said...


I may know what you mean but I will neither confirm nor deny. ;)