The Power of Lampshading

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I enjoyed this blog post from Shawn. Lampshading is apparently the idea of a TV show calling attention to some weakness (like an implausible plot point) so that the show can move on. By calling it out, it avoids criticism by demonstrating the self-awareness. For developers, Shawn notes, it’s like admitting to your teammates/boss that you don’t know some particular technology so the team can move on.

Not only is this useful, it’s powerful. Higher-ups need to call out anything they don’t understand because their job is literally asking the right questions and making sure clarity is present for both customers and reports. Juniors need to use it in order to grow.

I feel like this is easier to pull off the further you are on the polarity of junior and senior. If you’re super new, people are like, yeah it makes sense that they don’t know that thing. If you’re highly (and deservedly) senior, people are like, wow this obviously and incredibly knowledgeable human has a gap in their skillset — how relatable and humble of them to say it. I would hope lampshading is useful for everyone, but I could see how people square in the middle might have trouble pulling it off.

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