Donts and Dos for Conversations (and Interactions)

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  1. Don’t equate modesty with lack of expertise.
  2. Don’t equate chattiness with expertise.
  3. Don’t equate silence with lack of leadership.
  4. Don’t equate loudness with leadership.
  5. Don’t equate directness with rudeness.
  6. Don’t equate questions with insubordination.
  7. Don’t equate questions with disagreement.
  8. Don’t equate politeness with agreement.
  9. Don’t be a time hog.
  10. Don’t wing it. Be prepared.
  11. Be considerate.
  12. Don’t be submissive.
  13. Don’t be domineering.
  14. Don’t jump to conclusion. Instead, seek clarification.
  15. Have a conversation — listen, reason, speak, repeat.
  16. Don’t interrupt when someone is speaking.

That's it for now :)

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I have it gzipped for you: “Be competent, attentive and nice.”



Being competent in CS will help very little in a conversation with a Biologist. Being attentive does not mean that I will not interrupt. Holding back questions trying to be nice is not helpful either.

I think the qualities you mention are necessary but not sufficient (just like what I have listed) :)


Being nice has nothing to do with holding back questions, unless you are talking to the police officer.


What you say should be true but it isn't in many situations due to aspects such as listener's culture, seniority of speaker, and (as you say) power imbalance.


A lot of points seem like don't be extreme in one direction or the other. Although I agree with most of the points, they all seem dependent on the situation. There are no black and white rules for this, maybe sometimes you need to wing it, sometimes you might need to interrupt someone. The key is being aware of the people around you and of how you treat them. I think all of this can be summarized into try and be a decent human being and behave professionally


The first part of the list is about wrong assumptions (fallacies) we commit during conversations/interactions. The second part is about good practices to have a productive conversations/interactions. I prefer a list (albeit a non-exhaustive one) as it helps identify specific aspects, e.g., chattiness.

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