Critical Thinkers Need Not Be Critical

I came across this post on Brian Marick’s blog:

In his second post, Jonathan [Kohl] quotes James Bach: “… testers are critical thinkers — and critical thinkers are disruptive.” I don’t think that need always be true. One can be a critical thinker but not a critical speaker. One can post-process the thoughts and use them to guide progress in a non-disruptive way. [snip]

I agree. Actually, I’d go a further: critical thinkers are more likely to get their point across when they are not critical in their delivery.

When I train technical review leaders, managers, or facilitate retrospectives, I coach people towards “I” language. Starting with “You” as in “You did this,” or “Your code is wrong,” sets people up to be defensive.

It’s more effective to say something like “The code [project plan, spec…fill in the blank] is confusing” or even better “I don’t understand the code.” No one can argue you out of that, and they’re more likely to want to find out why (and then fix it).