Brian Feeney

The Sliding Scale of Giving a Fuck

Dan Mall reminded me of Cap Watkins' great post, The Sliding Scale of Giving a Fuck. I hadn't thought of it in awhile, though it did become a fundamental aspect of my design process. The gist is that you should take into consideration how strongly another person feels about their position in an argument or discussion when deciding a way forward. It's a very useful factor to consider for maintaining healthy relationships with your coworkers.

Like I said, I had forgotten about Watkin's post, but reflecting on it now, I see I've internalized it. In meetings, I prefer to stay quiet and to watch how others stake their claims. The manner in which they take positions is often as revealing as the position they're taking. Are they annoyed? Animated? Angry? Disinterested? Confused? Understanding the moods in the room gives me extra information for how to proceed with my proposals. If most people seem lost or unsure, I feel more comfortable presenting an idea confidently. It's an opportunity to provide structure and momentum when both are lacking. Yet, if someone else in the meeting is passionately arguing for something, I'm likely to provide my opinions softly. I'll share a differing perspective, but in this situation, I'd let it sit on the table and wait for someone else to pick it up. Otherwise, the passionate colleague can have their way.

A lot of this depends on having a trustworthy team. A team that shares goals at a higher level. If we all know we're working towards the same success metrics, it's easier to relax about individual decisions. I'm lucky to be on a team like that now. There's never any doubt we're all looking to make the best products we can.

If you're on a team that's constantly skidding out when disagreements arise, maybe see if The Sliding Scale of Giving A Fuck could help smooth things out.

March 30, 2024