A sensitive word of the week

Cartoon of a scale with a heart on one side and a hand on the other

Commiserative: Feeling or expressing sympathy, pity or compassion.

I am having such fun with my word of the week! And I'd love to hear your suggestions. It will be a challenge to write an email to match a word, instead of the other way around.

An inflammatory statement

Programmers have power. That's the (obvious) topic of my Friday webinar about "Programmers, Power and Responsibility. (If you haven't joined me yet, please register: it's free and I'm presenting it again on Friday 18 June 2021 11:00.)

Last Friday, an attendee made this comment: "Programmers don't have emotional intelligence".

Ouch! Of course, it is neither fair nor accurate to generalise like that. But let's examine that statement for a few grains of truth.

EQ what?

Emotional intelligence has four components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Social awareness needs the ability to have empathy - to be commiserative. (Were you wondering how I was going to work the word in?)

Movies have reinforced the image of the programmer as a relationship-challenged social recluse. Sometimes this is true, but most programmers have to work in teams. Which means that, if you are a developer, you need people skills.

So why does this perception persist? Are developers still only interested in technical skills?

There are two reasons why my attendee was not entirely wrong.

#1: Tech talk

Most techies hate explaining technical buzz words and concepts. In a team environment, they would rather the non-techies just take their word for it.

I know this, because L&D specialists are relieved when I explain the weird words in the list of training requirements. And when I tell them that C# is not pronounced "C hashtag". (No, don't laugh at them. How would they know?)

#2: The user

Let's be honest for a moment. Many developers lack empathy for the user. Don't believe me?

Think about the last application you used that really irritated you. A programmer was responsible for that application, and thus responsible for your irritation. Did the programmer try to make your user experience as good as possible? Or did he or she only focus on getting the job done? There are some systems that have made me curse creatively at the development team.

I'd love to hear your comments on this. Please share your thoughts - and any suggested words.

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