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How can I grow a thicker hide?

by rje (Deacon)
on Nov 30, 2001 at 22:02 UTC ( [id://128679] : monkdiscuss . print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I think I feel like my ego is on the line when I
post to this site. That's fine, but I'd like to
know how to get a thicker hide when I think my
ego is threatened or damaged. However, I don't want
to have a bullet-proof ego -- in other words, I
want to remain sensitive while understanding enough
to shrug off or learn from posts that appear to be

Anyone out there know what I mean?

When I feel that I've been misunderstood, sometimes I
get downright angry. That's kind of odd, because in
"real life" that doesn't happen very often. So what
is it that triggers that reaction in me? Is it partly
an affect of programming languages that give us all
such strong opinions?


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: How can I grow a thicker hide?
by footpad (Abbot) on Dec 01, 2001 at 01:46 UTC

    Please don't take this wrong, it's meant in the best possible way...

    Very simple: Start treating us as friends and collegues, not competitors. Nearly all of the regulars are trying to help you learn from their experience and the things they've learned from the mistakes they've made. We've all been there. (Some of us, in fact, are still there.)

    But the simple fact of the matter that nearly all of the criticism that is allowed to remain is meant constructively. Yes, it can be hard to hear. Yes, it can be expressed poorly. But, even the most irascible among us (that's deliberately not linked to anyone) is trying to help you learn Perl and how to use it better. (Remember, there's a big difference between coding flaws and personality flaws.)

    Also, it's important to remember that it can be very difficult to truly read the actual emotions felt by certain people when posting. You're just staring at words on the screen, so you tend to fill in the missing bits with your fears, your expectations, and the way you might've felt were you to post the same words. Do not do this. (Personally, I believe that more online flame wars have started over accusations starting through misperceptions than have resulted from true attacks.) Even if someone is truly trying to flame you inconsiderately, you have the final choice on how to respond to that. If you choose to believe in your own potential and your own self-worth, I believe you'll find the negative opinions of others have less of an effect on you.

    After all, you're really just trying to get a job done, right? As long as you're able to do it, isn't it worth putting up with a bit of noise to get there?

    We all want to be liked and appreciated, but in the end, you have to appreciate yourself first. If that isn't there, then all the honest praise, accolades, or other approbations given by others are meaningless. (Trust me on this point.)

    Yes, remain sensitive. Absolutely! Listen when more experienced people inform you of your mistakes. Learn from them and thank them for their assistance. And when you do make mistakes, acknowledge them honestly (if only to yourself) and then move on. That last bit is the most important, for if you do not move on, you condemn yourself to repeat and relive the same things over and over. You do not give yourself a chance to do better.

    In short, Listen, Learn, and have enough Faith in Yourself to believe that you will eventually succeed. In the end, you are the only person you have to prove yourself to.



    P.S. Just like on Who's Line Is It Anyway? (either version), the points don't matter. Just keep at it; you'll get there.

      footpad++, i agree with all but the following:

           Listen when more experienced people inform you of your mistakes.

      The following is not addressed to anyone in particular
      Do not forget to listen when people with less experience teach you as well. It can be surprising how much one can learn from someone with a different set of eyes, regardless of experience. It has been my experience that one of the hardest things to do is push the ego aside and learn from any situation. The lesson learned may not pertain at all to what your original intent had designed. Stepping past your thoughts (and pride) of what you think the problem is to what someone else thinks is the core of the problem can be an ego-shattering experience. Ego shattering experiences are not fun to go through, and usually require a thick skin.

      As stated elswhere in this thread, thick skin can be traded for thin ego.


      Disclaimer: This post makes no attempts to imply that anyone here has an inflated ego. Regardless of size, an ego can still meddle with us.

      footpad.... +++

      rje, hang in there. We have all been there. We are all here because of our love of perl. We all want to improve as well as help others improve. Some of us are better at being politically correct in our responses than others but in general, I think MOST comments are made with the best of intentions in mind.

      perl -e 'print reverse qw/o b n a e s/;'
(jeffa) Re: How can I grow a thicker hide?
by jeffa (Bishop) on Nov 30, 2001 at 22:11 UTC
    Be persistant. Read more than you post. Learn from those that consistantly make killer posts.... don't give up!

    I must have said to myself "i am never coming back to this site again" about 5 times since i have been here. But i always suck up my pride and chalk it up to growing pains.


    (the triplet paradiddle)
Re: How can I grow a thicker hide?
by dws (Chancellor) on Nov 30, 2001 at 22:29 UTC
    I think I feel like my ego is on the line when I post to this site. That's fine, but I'd like to know how to get a thicker hide when I think my ego is threatened or damaged.

    Keep in mind that people aren't responding you you, they're responding to a picture of you they've built up in their head that's assembled from very limited information. People's responses often say much more about themselves than about your post or you.

    That said, it might help to examine posts that get "good" responses, to see what about them separates them from posts that get flack. You might notice some patterns that will help you when you post.

Re: How can I grow a thicker hide?
by blakem (Monsignor) on Dec 01, 2001 at 02:21 UTC
    A few bumps and bruises to ones ego in the first week is par for the course around here... When I first started posting about six months ago, I thought I was a very good perl programmer. I soon realized that I had (and still have) a ton of stuff to learn about perl and about good coding practices in general.

    Putting your code up for public scrutiny is a somewhat harrowing experience. Code that gets shared needs to meet higher standards than code that is only used in one place. So people around here are probably tougher than your average QA guy, but their advice is much more valuable as well. If you can swallow your pride long enough to understand that its not personal you'll benefit immensely in the long run.

    One thing you might want to do if you feel affronted by an individual is to read some of their other posts. For one thing, it will give you a better feel for their posting style. For another, you can look at their really old posts and see how far they've come... Its quite likely that the suggestions they make to you today are from lessons they learned on perlmonks yesterday. ;-)

    As a personal testament, I've improved my perl more in the past 6 months hanging out here, than I did in my previous 6 years coding perl.


Re: How can I grow a thicker hide?
by Rifraf (Novice) on Dec 01, 2001 at 01:02 UTC
    Practice meditaion. It won't give you a thicker hide but mabe a thinner ego.
Re: How can I grow a thicker hide?
by hsmyers (Canon) on Dec 02, 2001 at 23:23 UTC
    The advice given thus far about thinner ego versus thicker hide is pretty much spot on. Another thing you might try—is to think of all of the PM experience as a form of structured walkthrough. Walkthroughs are one the the more successful survivors from the 'Structured' revolution of a few years back. To quote Tom de Marco:

    The concept of desk-checking as a part of the classical life cycle was valid in principle, but never was done. Walkthroughs not only detect errors in advance of testing, but encourage developers to think out their ideas more completely before review The result is that more debugging is done on paper, less on the machine. Procedures for peer review provide the following advantages:

    • detecting problems earlier
    • spreading familiarity and expertise
    • homogenizing style and method

    Institution of walkthroughs has a further effect of breaking down the attitude that a program is the very private personal property of the developer, really no one else's business. By the time the walkthrough is complete, reviewers have been co-opted into considering the product as much theirs as the original developer's.

    This is from Concise Notes On Software Engineering, by Tom de Marco. New York, NY., Yourdon Inc., 1979. ISBN: 0-917072-16-2.

    As to why this kind Internet experience might cause you to react differently from other modes of communication, keep in mind that most of this is without real time context. No body language or other clues generally forces worst case evaluation, which is most likely not the case at all. And it certainly isn't just you, it's all of us. The reason that words like 'troll' and 'flame' and such have become so well known is that they are useful descriptions of some of the markers of this new territory well all find ourselves in.

Re: How can I grow a thicker hide?
by perrin (Chancellor) on Dec 01, 2001 at 01:47 UTC
    Don't bother growing a thicker hide. Post interesting and useful information about Perl and programming. Or post questions about Perl and programming. You're unlikely to get a significant number of "--" if you are polite and on-topic.
Re: How can I grow a thicker hide?
by Rudif (Hermit) on Dec 04, 2001 at 05:04 UTC
    I would offer these words from a professional guru

    The Four Agreements are: Be Impeccable With Your Word. Don't Take Anything Personally. Don't Make Assumptions. Always Do Your Best.
    Agreements with whom, you might ask. With yourself.


Re: How can I grow a thicker hide?
by edebill (Scribe) on Dec 05, 2001 at 10:19 UTC

    You might try meditating on the following:

    1. You don't know anyone else on the site, or if you do they aren't going to change their opinions of you based on it (unless you do something /really/ rude).
    2. You feel fairly competent about yourself outside the site
    3. If you do something silly today, you can always do something brilliant tomorrow.

    This doesn't mean you should start flaming or being rude (remember that intelligent, decent person part). But it does mean that if you make a mistake it's not the end of the world. You'll post again some other time. And having some strangers temporarily think less of you just isn't all that important.

    Perl Monks just doesn't strike me as the sort of place where the weight of the world lies in the balance. Worry too much and it'll take the fun out of it.

Re: How can I grow a thicker hide?
by Anonymous Monk on Dec 05, 2001 at 14:58 UTC
    Its a personality defect that just happens to be a trait of many software engineers. We're like rare breeds, we have some valuable characteristics, but many also have a handful flaws thrown in for good measure. We're not meant to all be perfect, nor the same, nor equal. Lighten up and get on with it! :) Bob
      I don't really think so. For the longest time I have been a system engineer. I was the typical engineer making fun of the programmers and made subtle changes to the systems that made the programmer rework their programmers. After a while I wanted to try something new and I sat down with a Perl book and I learned Perl. Now after I have spent some time programming I am slowly taking on the traits of the programmers I used mess with. So I think that there are some traits that you pickup through the work that you are doing.