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Re: (OT) The Honest Cherry Bomb

by Nuke (Scribe)
on May 28, 2003 at 23:29 UTC ( #261437=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to (OT) The Honest Cherry Bomb

I don't think this is a "new" problem. I think it's just a problem that is more common now than it was before. There is a general shortage of caring in the world now. Many people honestly do not care about the people around them, and they don't expect others to care about them either, so it suits them just fine when they're treated the same way. They know the answer, and you should too. If you don't know the answer, you're beneath them in the pecking order. If they've told you once, and you can't remember, you're unworthy of taking their time.

I believe that we have forgotten what it means to serve. The world believes that if you are serving someone, you are somehow beneath them, or lesser. Somebody has told the world that kindness will get you nowhere fast, and that sarcasm, ridicule, and unkind behavior will save you time and get you ahead. We turn on the television and are taught that others emotional, physical, or other setbacks are to be laughed at.

Wether we're programmers, technicians, sysadmins, or managers, we are ultimately hired to serve somebody. This somebody could be a product or project manager, a room of end users, or an entire company of barely-trained data entry clerks. It doesn't matter who they are. To truly serve someone, you must care about them and their work. You must realize that your performance is tied together. You cannot separate that. They depend on you for what you provide, and you depend on them to use it and justify their dependance on you, so it behooves you to make sure that they are able to do their job.

If they cannot seem to remember how to do something, perhaps the process is too difficult and needs to be modified so that the typical end user can handle it. If we belittle them for not being able to do this, we take up valuable time and ultimately decrease trust, productivity, and teamwork. A short, curt, unkind attitude may seem like it is saving you time, because oftimes the subject of your response will not ask important, pertinant questions that they have because they are afraid of being yelled at and ridiculed again. Then they go do something else wrong that they wouldn't have if they had asked you the question they originally had.

Few people enjoy being yelled at, belittled, or otherwise abused. Most people like to be treated with kindness. If kindness doesn't work with someone, then they probably don't care about you, or care less about you than the work they are doing. I still believe in the "Do unto others as you would have others do to you." thing. The argument that others want different things seems correct on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you find they want the same thing. People want to be happy. Sure, I might want Mexican, and my wife might want Chinese, but that doesn't make the Golden Rule incorrect. In this situation, the Golden Rule doesn't tell me to take my wife to Mexican because that's what *I* want. That's a selfish attitude. The Golden Rule says "You like it when you get to eat what you want, so, why not allow your wife the same privilage?". In the above "Golden Rule doesn't work" reply, I'd venture to say that it's not the Golden Rule that has backfired, but the inflexibility of our email client that won't allow us to specify how this should be done on a per-user basis. Sometimes the Golden Rule is a casualty of the systems we're forced to use.

I'm reminded of a quote from a past movie favorite... "Be excellent to each other!"... =)
(With apologies to all... My spellchecker is wonky and my mouth runeth over today.)


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Re^2: (OT) The Honest Cherry Bomb
by Aristotle (Chancellor) on May 29, 2003 at 00:50 UTC

    I think you're overanalyzing the problem on the wrong level. There is no debate necessary (or so I hope) over the contraproductivity of belittlement. We can all agree it's a bad thing and I guess we can also reach a consensus on why. The problem at hand is that people do make mistakes, and the issue is how to break that news to them.

    I believe there is a problem when there is a widespread demand to be kind and friendly and courteous to each other all the time. To me, it is an indicator of a disturbing tendency for people to take themselves too seriously. You have to be able to accept criticism and the fact that you will invariably make mistakes if you ever want to grow as a person. You will make them over and over and over. They're your mistakes; you must be prepared to stand in for them. This sense of responsibility is what I seriously miss in society at large, much more so than a sense of caring.

    It should go without saying that truth should be delivered with respect; it may make someone a lesser programmer than you (for the moment) if they make a blatant mistake, but there is nothing ever that makes anyone a lesser person than anyone else.

    When a bug is found, the issue at hand is the bug - it is neither one programmer's superior skills, nor the inferiority of the offending programmer, nor the relationship between the two.

    Just stick to the point, please.

    Makeshifts last the longest.

      Heh. I almost analyzed my analysis. I guess I'll have to accept that criticism. I analyze way too much. Still, I think the original question was not how to break the news to people, but why many people in the IT fields choose to be unkind when dealing with other's mistakes. In my defense, I think I stayed on topic fairly well.


        Just noticing Aristotle critized Nuke, in a civilizied manner and Nuke replied in civilized manner. Proof it can be done. Just an observation.

        First post at perlmonks, looking forward to many more :)

Re: Re: (OT) The Honest Cherry Bomb
by jepri (Parson) on May 29, 2003 at 03:18 UTC
    I occaisionally find myself thinking similar thoughts about lack of care in the world. I hope it's just a passing phase, but I'm too old for it to be teenage angst and too young for a mid-life crisis.

    Then I think that maybe I'm not holding my end up enough because some days I really don't care, and my behaviour improves for two, maybe three hours. It;s a start :)

    I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

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