It is a sincere privilege to be in an occupation where I get to work with so many smart people. However, there are big downfalls, one of which I am growing impatient with – patronizing the intelligence of co-workers.
Too often people skirt around the core of this issue with generalizations that developers are egotistical, socially inept, and “too smart for their own good”. All though those may be both foundations for and symptoms of the core problem, the real issue is generally found in everyone and is much more selfish. Most intellectuals don’t appreciate other people’s intelligence.
It’s true…but why? Here is my hypothesis…
Let’s say someone spends a week running research and development on a particular sticky piece of code. The solution is well thought out, assumptions tested, and code spiked to ensure that out of all possible options this path was the most correct. Now that person shares the answer with the rest of the team – what do you think the most common answer would be? The most common answer most of the time comes out “Duh…obviously…”, and herein lies my heartburn.
People don’t appreciate other peoples’ knowledge. People don’t appreciate other peoples’ wisdom. Most importantly, people don’t appreciate the provided, immediate shortcut of the other person’s journey.
Just because you can grasp the answer does not mean you have the knowledge, wisdom, experience, or work ethic to come to that answer. Additionally, even if you do – praise the person for giving you a shortcut to higher knowledge! Rejoice in the fact you have a colleague or maybe even a mentor!
I could have simply preached, be humble and appreciative, but that is not enough because that is a topic intellects can understand and as a result undermine it. Truly being humble and appreciative is an act that is continually learned through continuous self realizations. The next time you respond to your co-worker, boss, or intern reflect on what you just said and how you said it…you just might catch yourself being a jerk who says “duh…”.