Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Consent first debate

Recently, I've been putting a lot of thought into how I want to handle myself in the professional circles. It started with a friend from Agile Finland mentioning he sees me getting into these arguments on twitter, where there just isn't a winner. Everyone loses. Time. Peace of mind.

From that comment, I signed him up as my personal coach. I wanted to work on "mindful online presence" and so far only thing I've learned that I feel much better when I manage to step away from the arguments. To remember that I don't have to respond, even if I sort of initiated a discussion by venting on something like people saying things like "detrimental to our craft" on something I believe might just as well be taking things forward.

Stepping back from the discussions doesn't usually please people, they tend to seek answers on why would I do that. The way I think about it right now found words from a blog post by Marlena Compton, titled "Feminism in the Testing Bubble". My takeaway from that article isn't the feminism, but the idea of a tax
"There is a tax for people who are part of any marginalized group.  The tax requires that you will spend your time and energy not on the actual topics you care about and want to write about such as software, but that you will spend time and energy defending your participation in the space and your right to be there.  The tax is so far-reaching and insidious that you will end up paying before you even realize what’s happening."
"Payment comes in many forms:  your influence, showing actual emotions on twitter, a boss’s anger, exhaustion from explaining yourself (again) and then there are all of the requests people make of you to teach them because they don’t feel like finding answers for themselves."
I feel part of a marginalized group in context-driven testing. I don't want to stop saying "exploratory testing" or "test automation". I don't want to discuss the one true way. I don't want to build walls where you only hang out with people in one camp. And I don't want to spend my precious little time on trying to convince those who want things I don't want that my way is the true way.

I blog to share what I think. I write more for myself than for an audience. If any of it is useful, great. If it starts discussions checking first on consent it's great. When I refuse to invest my time, I would rather have people accept my choice, than tell me that I must discuss all things testing.

I'm not paying the tax anymore if I learn to avoid it. I want to talk with my peers on how we teach testing skills without RST models, in a very particular style: pairing/mobbing and slow change, an idea at a time intertwined with reflection. I want to find time for that, and I prioritize other things out so that I have the capacity.

Marlena sums it well:
" I don’t mind if people communicate with me to tell me how wrong I am about that, just don’t expect me to give you a cookie."
 "...it is ok for me to push back on taking responsibility for fixing things.  It is ok for me to voice a frustration or call someone out and leave it at that."
Could there be a lesson on importance of consent in debates to take from here? At least teaching/coaching without permission is considered more of a bad than good thing.


10 comments:

  1. I feel part of a marginalized group in context-driven testing. I don't want to stop saying "exploratory testing" or "test automation".

    Where does that feeling come from? Who is telling you to stop saying "exploratory testing" or "test automation"?

    At least teaching/coaching without permission is considered more of a bad than good thing.

    Who, specifically, considers that? Without whose permission?

    I want to talk with my peers on how we teach testing skills without RST models, in a very particular style: pairing/mobbing and slow change, an idea at a time intertwined with reflection.

    I, for one, encourage you to do that. Do you perceive that someone is trying to discourage you from doing that?

    ---Michael B.

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    1. Feelings come from things that happen around me. And on coaching, asking for consent seems to be a thing. I hear about it in conferences and coaching camps. And I would agree on how I feel when some people tell me what is the truth of testing that everyone must adhere to: brought down, compensating, disengaging.

      The only one really blocking me is me. And I'm working on me. Not to define myself as much through others. Not to get lost on the things that are not my priority. That's work in progress.

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  2. Interesting you chose to blog about this. Following the earlier exchange on Twitter, an idea for an article came to me too.

    I'm unsure about the consent for debate point if applied to the Twitter exchange earlier.

    If you post something on a network such as Twitter, then consent has been given IMO. You consent to debate when you put an idea into a public space that comes with a 'reply' button.

    I completely understand the idea of the marginalised group's tax (better than most), and yes it can be frustrating to have to talk about things you don't want to.

    I suggest using a platform to share ideas where there isn't an automatic 'right-to-reply'. Maybe the issue isn't the debate itself, but the platforms on which you are choosing to share in the first place?

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    1. I have (just as the other party has) the right to leave the discussion at any point. Including the idea of never responding any comments to protect my time. I choose to not do that, but I feel I need to learn to be better at protecting my time.

      Right to reply does not mean reply back. And saying I started something and HAVE TO finish it isn't really what I have to do.

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    2. I'm not saying you HAVE TO finish anything. I'm not sure where you got that from my comment.

      All I'm saying is that writing an idea on a platform which includes a reply mechanism; means there is implicit consent given for replies.

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    3. I'm misunderstood then. Let's try saying it this way. I'd love to have comments here and I try my best on replying them.

      If the comment starts with attacks that go into my person (e.g. how adults don't do things, suggesting I'm not an adult - see twitter for examples), I will choose not to respond because it will not become a fruitful discussion. Or better framed, with same time there is another fruitful discussion that I rather choose to engage in.

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    4. Choosing the platform and content you wish to reply to is your prerogative.

      My point was merely regarding the idea of consent, and how that is implied within the platform.

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  3. I had no idea that there were folks that wanted to funnel learning through a permission gate or that assumed discussions between peers were being seen as "teaching" lessons. I always assume equals until proven otherwise, as I tend to give the benefit of the doubt. But I've only ever encountered people who if they engage, will engage in any form or fashion presented, then simply take/ignore any advice given as they see fit after the discussion ends.

    Since I believe there are no best practices, then of course I believe there are different conversational models that people use too. Thank you for opening my eyes to another type. I consider myself educated on a new method, and will keep that in mind.

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    1. There's a lot of folks who prefer a style of discussion I would rather call (as the author Deborah Tannen) dialogue, that seeks to understand and and learn. The debate tends to focus on argumenting, and an argument seeks a winner, where a debate seeks mutual learning.

      I participate in debates too, but I choose which ones. And I'm much more likely to invest time on a good learning-oriented discussion.

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    2. Learning is always my intention, and I have recently found through introspection, that it is only in text-based communication do I have this breakdown. Never over phone or in person chats, so knowing which medium to work on I think will help me in that endeavor.

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