Whew. I remember being young. You couldn’t convince me I didn’t already understand everything. It was impossible to get me to listen to something I wasn’t ready to hear. I remember the feeling. When I reflect on it today, I had to *learn* how to be open to new information.
It’s helpful to think about listening as a skill you can develop. Not only so you can actively get better at. But also because you can do it with intentionality. You can decide that what you want to do is *seek* better understanding on a subject so you can grow.
But it also you allows you to be more intentional about when you are *not* listening. Not every message is worth hearing. It’s okay to not listen to messages you know are harmful. That’s how you avoid manipulation. What we want is to develop better judgment about which is which.
I’m settling into my place as a middle aged person. I have a lot of experience and advice to share with younger people. But I’m also mindful that I don’t want to be overbearing. I don’t want to fall victim to some of the negative dynamics that can develop between generations.
If people haven’t decided to listen, there’s not much you can do to get them to hear you. So pushing on it creates tension. But it’s important to try often. It’s part of the process when you finally understand something people have been trying to tell you for a long time.

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More from @polotek

9 Jun
Something I think about a lot. There's a whole part of the populace that gravitated towards "centrism" and "middle ground" kind of politics. It stems from our tendency towards binary thinking. E.g. "both sides", "two extremes". But at the root of it is a desire to avoid conflict.
The phrase "avoid conflict" evokes some feelings, but mostly sounds like a good thing. If we say "conflict avoidance", that evokes a different reaction. And we can start to see that trying to find the "middle" in a conflict that needs to be resolved is often counterproductive.
The conflict between white people and non-white people. Between Owners and workers. The conflict between oppressors and those they seek to oppress. These conflicts can't be avoided. They can't be swept under the rug. They are core to our society and must be faced.
Read 4 tweets
4 Jun
I've been thinking a lot about the labor "shortage" in lower wage industries. I feel like we are re-learning something important about movements of the past. I may screw this up. But let me try to explain.
What we see happening today is that industries that have been underpaying for decades are now finding it hard to re-hire now that they want to recover from the (ongoing) pandemic.
There are lots of reasons people aren't going back. But one claim is that they're living off unemployment and that means they don't need the low wages provided by work. That's why Owners are petitioning the government to cut unemployment. To force people back into desperation.
Read 9 tweets
4 Jun
Let me say it again. They are *right*. Diversity has never been necessary for the continued success *of white men*. If you think you're making the argument that they "need" diversity, you're gonna have a bad time. This is a fight. Stop thinking you can talk them into it.
I have a favorite pithy definition for the word politics. At it's core, "politics" is the thing we invented in a civilized society so that all of our fights don't end in murdering each other. It is a truly important innovation. But we still have to recognize when it's a fight.
There is no way to "persuade" the people who hoard resources that they should willingly give it up. Instead what we're negotiating is how are we gonna get access to those resources without bloodshed. And right now they think they have all the leverage and can't get fucked up.
Read 7 tweets
3 Jun
White men will never stop implying that people who aren't white men don't have "merit".
We know so much about why hiring a diverse workforce is hard. Why it doesn't happen "naturally". They don't give a fuck about any of that. They are content to assume it's because we're not good enough. And that is what white supremacy is.
A lot of people, white men in particular, have decided to internalize "diversity" as something you obtain. We have fallen into the trap of characterizing it as a goal you can reach. It's useful in order to drive practical action. But it obscures the real goals of the movement.
Read 7 tweets
20 May
I can't tell you how often I talk to people these days about setting boundaries at work. Modern work environments give you no signals about what is an appropriate amount of work. So the expectations just keep ratcheting up with no way to draw lines for ourselves.
"I can't take that on right now. I don't have the bandwidth."

"I probably won't get to that until next week."

"I can't be responsible for this unless something else comes off my plate."

"I'm a bit overloaded. I need to talk about handing off some priorities."
These are just some of the phrases you can use to make it clear that you are reaching your limit on work. Depending on your office culture, people still may not respond the way you would like. But you have to make people hear you when you say "no".
Read 4 tweets
16 May
This is a good thread overall. Tackling a topic that requires a lot of nuance.
I will say one thing about this that doesn't have a lot of nuance, but needs to be said. Many engineers are very luck that they don't get held accountable for the systems they write. That's not something people actually want, because the stakes are gonna go up real fast.
Read 7 tweets

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