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I learned to Shut Up when Learning

Hieu Nguyen — October 19, 2020

Sometimes, explaining and talking back has a thin line. It often leads to no good when someone asked for an advice, then being talked back. I learned to shut up and listen more


In 2014, I participated in a national Web Design and Development contest. As a developer student, a design teacher volunteered to help me with the design aspect. When I first met her, she offered to review one of my designs in class.

My taste of design was influenced by flashy drafts online, especially from Dribbble. Not understand much of its effectiveness, I thought having a huge footer was solid and cool.

But the teacher pointed out it wasn't suitable for my design. Since it was an app, with the page's max height is the browser's height. A big element tells the viewers "this is important", while in fact, the content was the important part.

I didn't understand the point at the time, and persistently explaining why I used a huge footer. It was the last time I saw her. She quit helping me. 

A few years later, when thinking back, I realized it was a mistake.

Paul Graham — a founder of Y Combinator, mentioned when giving advice, good startups' try not to confront it. Their responses are "we already tried it", or "from speaking to our users that isn't what they'd like" ¹

There is a thin line between explaining and talking back. It's different from each person's perspective and often misunderstands. When giving advice, people might feel unappreciated receiving a talkback. Some will respond to the stubborn, or they might not. Some will eventually quit.

Later on, unless when not looking for advice, I try to shut up and listen more.

Cover photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator

[1] — Paul Graham - A Word to the Resourceful (see footnote)

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Hieu Nguyen

I'm a developer, hobbyist photographer. Building Inverr — a NoCode Site Builder



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