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Kim Arnett 
Kim Arnett 

Posted on

Advice on Advice

There's a lot of advice floating around on the internet from people who have had journeys and want to share their learnings. It's one of the main reasons I love the internet... tech communities and (sometimes) social media make a great platform for sharing such learnings. But, whenever I come across some "advice" - there always seems to be someone who has either been offended or swears that this advice is wrong.

When someone has advice on a topic, it's generally based of their experience and insight from that experience. Everyone has different and completely unique experiences!

Advice on Advice

  1. Advice is Not Black and White
    This goes hand in hand with number 2, but I wanted to call it out specifically. Usually when I come across something in my developer journey that makes me cringe, I'll throw it out in the Twitter-verse as advice or a hey, don't do this. Does that mean you should NEVER do this? Nope! Everything has a place and time where it shines, but consider why this advice has come up, and consider it during your implementation and see if you can improve the pain points.

  2. Situational Advice
    I once cringed whenever I came across an iOS team that didn't use storyboards. After all, they DO make things much easier, development time much faster, I just couldn't fathom why anyone wouldn't want that! Truth be told, it worked very well for every small team I've been on. Once I joined a large team - it clicked. With all the merge conflicts storyboards would cause, it would eat up a LOT of time to sort it all out. Even with multiple storyboards, it's just not feasible and would end in a very messy solution. Was I rude whenever I came across someone with a differing opinion? No - but I listened to why they had differing opinions. Which leads me to...

  3. Have Empathy
    This goes for both sides, the advice giver and the advice receiver. In my above example, you should be generally interested in why someone has a differing opinion. Maybe it's a catching point that you haven't reached yet, or maybe their situation is a bit different. But, it's still good insight for both present and future decisions.
    As for empathy for the advice giver - it's generally very scary putting yourself out there. I do it because I enjoy helping others steer clear of mistakes that I've made, and help people succeed in their jobs. But every now and then someone will quote my tweet and shame me for being too "black and white". Sure, it can come off that way in 140 characters, but anyone who follows my blogs here or my tweets should know that's never my intention. A conversation would have been a more constructive use of everyone's time.
    Empathy goes a long way.

  4. Gratitude & Ignoring
    If someone has enlightened you, thank them! Let them know that their insight has helped you make better decisions going forward.
    If you do not agree with what's been said, you can either take approach number 3 to explain your insight on the topic, or ignore it and move on with your day. No sense in being negative and cutting down someone who's trying to help others following in the path.

Top comments (11)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

+100 on ignoring.

Just because you think such and such technology is the wrong way to go doesn’t mean you have to show up every time someone is discussing it to say that.

Move along and ignore if you’re just going to be a disruption. It’s healthy and totally the fine thing to do.

If you care to weigh in on the matter and nobody is actively welcoming the debate, gather your thoughts and make a stand-alone post another time (or boost an existing one that you agree with, but do so outside the thread). I sort of mean this in online and in person terms.

kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett 


pavsaund profile image
Pavneet Singh Saund • Edited

This is great advice, and a great reminder! 😁

I can't help but think of the first peak of the Dunning-Kruger effect, and how easy to is to give advice as blanket statements, and also judge others negatively for not following said advice. My experience has been that the more I realise how little I know about topics and realise how much context matters the easier it has been to show empathy, and also decide when not to say something.

And to your point #4: as Woody Zuill says: "Turn up the good!"

mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y

Yes, I agree. Indeed, I even have bullet points in my book outline about advice and situations. :)

It's also fine to thank people for being a good team member, or making a good argument, even if it's not something new to your personally.

trueneu profile image
Pavel Gurkov

Sometimes the information being spread is plainly harmful. Misleading. Without any doubts, objectively. Due to Danning-Kruger of the advice giver, or whatever else, it doesn't really matter. Do you find it hard to remain empathetic and positive towards disinformation?

kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett 

I would need an example. I would also say there’s a difference between facts and advice. Advice is based on experience, facts are not. There’s also a difference between advice and opinions.

phallstrom profile image
Philip Hallstrom

Q: Should I turn off the circuit breaker before replacing a light fixture?

A: Nah, as long as you're careful it's fine. Just don't leave both wires exposed at the same time.

I've seen the above multiple times and it is the most horrible "advice"... like end up dead if you mess that up level advice. But technically it's accurate.

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

A related talk I recommend to ppl that are just learning or teaching development stuff

kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett 

oOo! Thanks for sharing!