In a way, I am on the opposite side of this question. I work in information security profession as an IT auditor. I was doing peer review of a vulnerabilities report / application risk assessment done by a junior member of the team today and he had many questions of "why" such as

  1. Why I chose the message recipients as I did
  2. Why I adjusted wording, style, and content the way I did

The reason for what I did is partly due to ensuring technical accuracy, but also partially due to past experience with management, management style, and workplace culture. Getting an accurate read on management style, company culture, and a likely management response (given security is not always popular) is challenging and can often only be done through several years of experience. I do not want to brush off his questions as I had these same questions in the past when I was a junior. I also do not want to appear rude / arrogant by suggesting I know better.

How do I explain my thought process about the part in the first bold statement above to such a team member in the most professional way possible?

  • 1
    Omit the "I had the same questions in the past when I was a junior", explain the "past experience..." and explain what you said about it having an influence on what you decide. The only thing you teach them is "Experience is handy, use it as soon as you have it." How is that arrogant? Everything else would be lying to him and maybe keeping him from learning and gaining his own experience.
    – skymningen
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 6:03
  • 2
    If you want to answer couldn't you just say it pretty much as you've written here? Him: "Why did you adjust the wording?" You: "Partly for technical accuracy, partly from past experience." You can go into further detail if desired if there is a specific question about a specific change.
    – Brandin
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 6:22
  • Well, you basically have a valid explanation given. You can tell for each edit what the reason is, what your past experience with an alternate formulation have been. I would also make it clear that it is no hard science and that you are open to discuss it. Do you had the feeling the question was out of interest or do you think it was to question your decision or feel the need to defend?
    – eckes
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


You basically answer your own question.
As a developer, I'm often faced with the same situation when talking to newer/younger developers; and I think most any of us are once you get some knowlegde under your belt. When you have 5-10-15+ years of experience, you've seen and tried a lot of things and that is what makes experience useful.
You can identify short-cuts, situations, patterns and it influences your reasoning based on practical and real examples and situations.

You ask how to explain that it is based on experience; So simply explain the circumstances that taught you this and gave you the experience. It will always be beneficial to actually use real examples, also when conveying information to a colleague.

One thing to be wary of however, is not to let past experiences keep you from learning that said experience can become outdated (or even be wrong) as technology and situations change, which is why it's actually good to be (forced) challenged to explain your reasoning.
It can offer you new perspectives and add to that "experience backpack".
(However, an experienced person knows this as well :) )

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