Chapter 6. Critiquing with Difficult People and Challenging Situations

We work in diverse settings; our teams are made up of people with different skillsets, backgrounds, experience levels, and approaches to building products. Diversity is an important aspect in creative collaboration. These differences between teammates means that we can draw inspiration from a wider array of possibilities; we have more material with which to build connections, increasing our chances of finding new, innovative solutions to the challenges we’re trying to solve.

Yet, bringing people together in this way also means we need to be aware of and prepared for the challenges that are bound to arise. Take a group of individuals, put them together, and give them problems to solve, constraints, and deadlines, and it becomes inevitable that we will run into situations in which communication becomes a bit rough. Team members will disagree or people will misunderstand one another while discussing their ideas and designs, sometimes making things uncomfortable and slowing down the task to which you’ve been assigned.

This is perfectly normal. In no way does the presence of these challenges mean that we should cease collaborating. The fact of the matter is that regardless of how much effort we put into setting up conversations and critiques the right way, there will be situations for which things simply don’t go according to plan. Occasionally, there will be people who don’t participate in a productive manner for any ...

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