The words I use at work

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

The company I recently worked for, ThinkTilt, was purchased by Atlassian, a big Australian software company known worldwide for products like Jira and Confluence. It's a big moment in any startup's life - being acquired - and I'm grateful to the founders of ThinkTilt for bringing me on for the ride.

Kate, Charlie, and Simon: thank you.

We're not a small team anymore

It was quick to sink in that we, everyone from ThinkTilt, are now part of a bigger organization with more processes, policies, requirements, and people.

We're proud of what we built as ThinkTilt and since joining up with Atlassian I've had this feeling of being consumed and becoming anonymous within this bigger company. Part of that is this feeling that us ThinkTilt alumni have to fight to stay true to our mission, to our customers, and to our product.

We have to battle to make sure ProForma follows the best path for it and its customers.

When did the war start?

When did I start talking like we're in a fight for survival? Why use words like "fight" and "battle" to describe working with teammates?

I started talking like this in meetings. I was speaking with colleague who stopped mid-sentence to call out her language as "aggressive".

It made me realize that my language was aggressive and blunt - anyone listening in would think we're about to step into the Coliseum, gladiators at the ready to fight for our lives.

Everyone has been graceful and welcoming

Everyone I've met with and spoken to at Atlassian has been professional, friendly, sharing... the list of warm and welcoming adjectives is long. They've all been lovely.

So why was my language not matching that?

I am excited to be a part of this new team and bigger team. I'm pumped to see how my new team works and how we can all grow together.

I think my battle stance comes from a place of uncertainty and defensiveness. I'm not sure how this is all going to work out. I want to make sure my work to this point isn't forgotten or overlooked and I feel ready to defend what we, ThinkTilt, built and the customers who depend on it.


We're on the same team now

There isn't one Atlassian making things hard for me. So why are my defenses up?

Instead of huddling together and figuring out how we're going to defend our customers and our product, we need to open our circle to let new teammates in on all the good things we've learned and we need to be open to learning from them too.

Nothing has been a battle. I have not had one fight. There hasn't even been a single aggressive comment made to me. This "battle" is all in my head.

Open culture and open arms

We owe our customers and partners everything, so we need to look after them as we become part of Atlassian. We don't need to close ranks and become so defensive that we lose sight of how much more we can do for them as part of this bigger team.

That starts with the language I use and how I approach my work with new people.

Atlassian is famously open. As I work my way into this new culture, it's important to remind myself that being open means sharing what I can do AND being open to what everyone else can do, too.

There are no battles. This is no war we're fighting.

Instead, we are champions for our customers and our product. We are advocates and allies surrounded by people who have welcomed us in with open arms. After all, none of us came this far only to come this far.

Peter Preston

Peter Preston

I'm a Saas marketing manager at ThinkTilt, makers of ProForma for Jira. I'm also the founder of Dear Video, a recovering podcast host, and learning how to grown a brand on YouTube.
Brisbane, QLD