Managing a big group of engineers (or yourself), in the new worlds of remote and slack can be hard. Some days are just breezy, whilst others full of struggle - helping people talk to, rather than past each other.
After spending some years on mail-groups, forums, and chat software, I wrote up these rules with the help of a few fine colleagues to help guide big groups in the use of Slack.
These are also available as in Markdown in a githib Gist.
Using Slack is more like using Twitter than having a chat
- Your audience is likely broader than you think. What you say is recorded and searchable forever.
- Nuance is hard with words alone. It takes work to express complex ideas. Consider using a less public place to finesse them.
- Your words will sometimes stand alone and lose their conversation context. Be aware of what you say, when you say it.
- Chatting in a private room with your close buddies is very different than @all in #announcements
Post in haste, repent at leisure
- If you feel very strongly on a topic, consider writing your thoughts down and holding off posting for few hours.
- Consider getting some feedback from a different perspective or your mentor.
- More people will be able to hear what you say if you work to include everyone.
Once something is said, it stays read.
- When posting about a social topic, consider other people’s feelings and experience.
- Take care if you are sharing an opinion on a topic that could have impact on others. Your words are powerful. Carefully consider the effect you could have.
- Consider asking an open question) rather than having a rant.
- Be aware of language and how it can exclude.
- ‘Starting a debate’ is often a car crash waiting to happen - approach with caution.
Match conversation to correct channel
- Rooms have a topic and a purpose. Try to support that when you post.
- Use threads to help others keep up - the larger the audience the better it is to use threads.
- Some rooms belong to teams; you are welcome; but it’s their home.
When you get feedback on your words, listen
- Feedback is someone is trying to help. Listen. Then ask questions - to gain understanding of their point of view.
- If your post is fresh and is problematic; ask if you should temporarily remove it whilst you understand the issue.
Reading slack and giving feedback
- People are often communicating whilst multi-tasking. Try to help them be their best with simple unassuming feedback.
- If you feel something is going to cause someone to be upset, expect the writer to not have realized when they posted. Let them know privately.
- Nuance is hard. Be curious and read with positive intent. English is not everyone's' first language. If you are unsure, give them a call; have a chat.
Further reading and watching
Not sure how to put across a point of view? Try Non-violent communication
NVC’s creator Marshall Rosenberg’s introduction