Just Stay Quiet
For a long time, I thought I was an introvert. I thought I liked staying away from people, designing my perfect system, meeting the requirements set out before me. Worth through quiet perseverance.
Software development reeks of this culture; the dead-quiet environments, the stereotypes of the unhygienic nerd.
As a woman, one also faces the constant pressure of impostor syndrome, a lack of confidence. It’s all too easy to fall back from more confident voices, easy to stay in the corner and just keep developing code, closing tickets and trying to look like you belong.
There are no specific examples of this conduct; it was just how I assumed software development worked.
Of course, the longer one stays quiet the harder it becomes to engage with the team, the easier it becomes for opinions to be discounted on all sides.
By being shy or retiring, the entire team is compromised. Without keeping everyone in the loop, it can be hours of exhaustive knowledge transfer before one can even begin covering acutal problems.
Everyone on the team is busy; spending time on knowledge transfer often feels wasted. It becomes easier to just stay quiet, to just let that gap grow wider. Random conversations never happen; it just takes too long to cover complexities.
The Harm of an NDA
Normally, a developer has a broad network of friends; people they discuss and iterate ideas with. An NDA removes this potential pool of help, leaving our developer who is unable to connect to the team unable to discuss problems in any venue.
Her productivity will suffer; more ideas and minds improve all software products. We all benefit from more pairs of eyes, from fresh ideas.
Without a feedback loop, it’s all too easy for impostor syndrome to amplify, to scream in our ears that we really don’t deserve to be here, or that we aren’t able to contribute.
That same silence can also amplify our egos; we’re never checked or called on our architectures or decisions. We’re left with bad habits that, uncorrected, dig deeply and build into harmful patterns.
But even if we could, outsiders would have nowhere near the required context to understand the problems. Our incentives are left aligned with keeping our group informed. Without them, no one shares context within the problem space.
This is Why I Love Standups
The standup is a recent process in my team; the short daily meeting solely to go over what we did yesterday, and what we will be doing today.
I have lost count of the number of times I’ve discussed a problem, only to have the solution handed to me by a teammate.
The number of times that I’ve been able to do the same.
Where I’ve been grilled on what I’m doing, those 20 minutes providing just enough context that I can ask for help, without an hours-long derailment.
Where they can ask me the same.
Talking and More Talking
Development does attract introverts, as well as extroverts.
It attracts the confident and the fearful. Wisdom, intellect, and sheer stubbornness.
A talking team is the strongest; a team that can argue, find consensus. The team that covers its own weaknesses, projects its own strengths. Everyone knowing what the others can do, what they need help on.
We need to talk; externally or internally. If your team isn’t talking, if you’re isolated, finding out why is imperative. Cultures change; you change. It’s worth it, to be happy, to find that sense of progress.
Without progress, without accomplishment, have you ever felt happy?