Fri 5 Oct 2007
I guess I’m going beyond the remit of technical blog here and exploring an area best left to people that know more about it than me. So I’ll keep it brief. More and more I’m coming to realise that the ‘them and us’ of software development is a problem. There are many thems and sadly just us, and since we’re obviously the good guys that makes them the bad guys.
Dale Carengie in his 1933 book writes that very few people ever think of themselves as bad people. Even the really bad ones. Al Capone, arguably the most notorious gangster in history, claimed that he was just providing a public service (effectively saying that the ends justified the means).
The totally unsurprising fact is that almost everybody feels this way about their actions. The reason that we don’t all get along though is that my interests, and hence my actions, are often divergent from yours. Like when you go and commit that change to that function, that I said I didn’t want you to make, you did it because you’re you. And you probably have a very good reason for it. The problem is that I will instantly brand you a jerk, and if I don’t know you very well your jerk-ness will be hard to shrug off. Trust me, you’re pretty much screwed.
The anti-dote to this problem is for me to try and get inside your head and understand why you acted like you did. Maybe then we can find a better, mutually acceptable solution or I can persuade you do it my way. But it’s soooo much harder to do and it sounds really lame. It’s so much easier to write-off perfectly justifiable behaviour as bad and bitch about it for a while.
Welcome Trevor! Trevor is an ex-ex-ex-colleague and he’s nasty. He looks nasty, he talks trash and he has no time for me (or anyone else) because I don’t have a PhD and my IQ is so low that I may as well dribble from the left-side of my mouth and eat through a straw. Trevor is clever. Very clever (almost magical) Trevor. Part of Trevor’s problem was that he was often interrupted during the working day by people who didn’t think about what they were asking. They ended up wasting his time and that really annoyed him. Once I figured this out I made no attempt to have a conversation with him because I knew my opinion was of no interest to him. He just wanted to end whatever conversation we were about to have as quickly as possible. So, I kept our conversations to a minimum and made sure to if possible ask him questions to which he could answer yes or no. Over time it seems that this approach gained me some credits with Trevor. Although we could never be friends some of my fellow ‘retards’ admired the relationship Trevor and I had.
My advice? Hug a Trevor today. It’s worth it.