User-interface design is not easy. It is, perhaps, the single most important part of what I do every day; but, it is not easy. Each new interface offers its own challenges and its own unique opportunities for innovation. When Clark Valberg and I are working on a user interface together, sometimes things get heated. While we are typically on the same page as to what will work and what won't, occassionally, we both feel very strongly about an opposing point of view.
Early on in our business, when we would get into these situations, both of us would drop down into a conversational style that went early with the sarcasm. We might say things like:
"Yeah, I think that's a really good idea. I mean, I personally like 'usable' interfaces; but, I think we should definitely try your idea."
"I don't mean to push back - I just thought you were fan of intuitive design; but hey, maybe the user doesn't really need to be able to use this."
After something of this nature was said, we would both have a good laugh and move on with the design. Because sarcastic comments can be funny, it is sometimes hard to remember that they are poisonous. Sarcasm is the taking of something that is negative and dismissive and rolling it up into something that is "witty" and humorous. While it may not be immediately apparent, sarcasm can leave a residue of resentment; we might initially hear the humor of it, but what we feel later is the negativity.
As a warrior, I want to be impeccable with my word. I want to take all of the love that I have inside me and share it with everyone and every thing around me. I cannot do this if I continue to use sarcasm to express myself. When I use sarcasm, I use the power of the word against myself by using it against others. This is not a long-term strategy for success.
Luckily, both Clark and I feel the same way. We hold weekly meetings to evaluate our ongoing work environment. In one of those meetings, a long time ago, we evaluated the way in which we conducted ourselves during the design process. We both agreed that the use of sarcasm can only lead us away from our goals; not only does it [sarcasm] add nothing to the current conversation, it makes both of us less likely to present new and innovative ideas in the future for fear of their sarcastic dismissal. Be removing sarcasm from our conversations, it has removed friction and increased the effectiveness of our design process.
While not all forms of sarcasm are necessarily intended to be harmful, I believe that as a warrior, there are far more effective ways for me to express myself.