Fascinating on so many levels

An anonymous commenter on Mini patronizingly critiqued me for “airing dirty laundry” about Microsoft on a public forum under the guise of a “helpful” warning me that “my new employer” might have second thoughts about me because I’d presumably “do it to them as well”. (See the thread for the full language and context — it’s near the end.)

Especially in context, it’s one of those comments that’s fascinating on so many levels, and representative of certain kinds of thinking that it’s well worth analyzing. Where to start?

First of all, it’s kind of bizarre and very amusing to critique me for “airing dirty laundry” in a thread that starts with Mini’s saying “What does it take to be disappeared from Microsoft? We can only guess one day Stuart Scott was walking outside of his building when a black Escalade with VI0L8R plates pulled up, Ken DiPetrio swung open a door and said, ‘Get in.'” So no matter what the poster thinks of my argument, he’s shooting himself* in the foot by framing his critiques in this way. In an environment where people value transparency, “airing dirty laundry” is something that’s generally seen as a good thing. Putting me completely aside, showing his lack of understanding while unnecessarily dissing and devaluing whistleblowers and all the people who *do* see appropriate airing of dirty laundry as potentially in the company’s best interests (like Mini and his/her/their fans) isn’t a good way of starting an argument.

For his goal of criticizing my behavior, rather than using the vague and loaded term “dirty laundry” it would have been better for him to be more concrete about what he thought I had done that was against Microsoft’s interests. Making blustering and sneering implications like he did is easier but usually counter-productive, leaving him with a hard time responding when you’re challenged — for example, if he attempts to advance a more concrete argument now he risks looking defensive.

Lots more to cover, including the reason potential future employers at Microsoft and elsewhere would be likely to see this discussion as a positive rather than counting against me (quick summary: it embodies positive transparency and empowers employees by helping them understand existing processes), why the “let me explain” framing similarly backfires, the hegemonic effects of devaluing personal experience, and of course gender issues.

To be continued,


* Or, potentially, if the poster’s a she, shooting herself in the foot. Since the communication style here has several pattern that are much more common among males, I’ll use male pronouns for simplicity; so whenever you see “he” in relation to the poster, please mentally translate to “the poster, whatever gender he and/or she might be” or something like that.