Chapter 33. The Four-Letter Word That Makes My Blood Boil

Marcus Blankenship


It’s one of the worst four-letter words I know. Whenever I catch myself using it, I stop and apologize. And when I hear it, I hold up my hand and stop the person speaking.

Let me give you some examples from last week:

“Just put a form up to collect their email…”

“Just make it so they can log in with Facebook…”

“I’ll just throw it in a new database field.”

“We can just launch a new database server…”

“Let’s just let them post notes, like Twitter does…”

A synonym I often hear is “simply”:

“Let’s simply use Redis for this…”

“We’ll simply spin up another AWS server…”

“It should be simple to reuse the Atlas library for that.”

If you use the words “just” or “simply,” you might have forgotten how difficult the technical details can be.

Or, you might be pushing the team too hard and glossing over the details.

What If You’re Not Saying It, But You’re Hearing It?

Then it’s time to stop the conversation and politely ask for the missing details. This used to be difficult for me because it made me feel like I was asking “stupid” questions. For many years, I felt that if I asked people to explain what they meant, I’d look dumb or unprofessional. Or I’d be wasting their time.

I finally realized that professionals aren’t content with generalities or vague requirements. They stop and ask for specifics, even ...

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