Breaking Bad News
March 29, 2012 4:58 PM Subscribe
How can I not bum people out when I tell them their software idea will be more costly and/or may not work as well as they think it will?
posted by ignignokt to human relations (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a software developer, and periodically, people that have not worked in the software industry will ask me what I think of a software project idea. Usually, they are very excited about and attached to this idea.
I try to start with what's good about it, but I usually see some combination of following:
1. It will take much longer to develop than they think.
2. Their idea as it is too vague for anyone to be able to work on it or even estimate at what it might cost.
3. It can't work as they described.
I try to point out these things as non-judgmentally as I can and to suggest an alternative way to solve the problem their product would address (usually using existing software). Inevitably, they are crestfallen and/or disbelieving. Sometimes, I get the impression they think I'm being negative for just for the sake of crushing their dreams.
When I'd do this in work situations, people rarely had a problem with it. How can I do this with "non-technical" people also, so that no one comes away from the talk with bad feelings?
I know some people will never take this kind of information well, but it seems to happen every single time I talk to someone about this. What do you do?
I may be doing some consulting down the line, so this would be handy to know for that situation as well.