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Don't Wonder About People

When you read a good book, you wonder about the author. When you read about someone doing that something you’re really interested in, and they’re doing it surprisingly well, you wonder about that person. You may wonder what they’re really like in person, or whether they’re willing to meet you for lunch, or how to discover such people organically.

That’s usually where it all stops: with wondering.

Some things are meant to be wondered about. For example, I wonder why I once used to own and wear a pair of UFO pants. I wonder why I ever abandoned my chain wallet assembled from Petsmart materials. And I wonder and what sort of spicy topic or phobia inspired the woman sitting across from me to wrap the cover of her book in the Sunday comics section of the newspaper.

In other words, fleeting chain wallets are meant to be wondered about. People, however, are not.

Speak with the people you’re interested in. We enjoy the company of people that are sincerely interested in ourselves and so it follows that people we express a genuine interest in may take a small interests in us, however short.

I say this from the vantage-point of a veteran practitioner, but as someone who would like to spend less time wondering about people, and more energy walking over and saying, ‘Hi, I think you’re neat.’ This feels especially relevant considering the number of fascinating people I’m surrounded by at MongoDB.

After all, if we put on our Stoic hats and visualize the worst that can happen, we often find the potential downside to be trivial.

Consider the advice Bradley Voytek provided on Quora in response to a graduate school applicant seeking advice on whether he should contact schools that had rejected him:

Email Decision Matrix

Framing the problem using this matrix brings immediate clarity to the options that exist and their respective pros and cons. For simple black-and-white decisions, such as whether to contact someone, I find Bradley’s approach extremely useful.

I hope I can take my own advice.

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