Just be decent

Everyone has regrets or moments they wish they could redo. My big redo moment came sometime in the first two months of 2019.

To set the scene: I sat and worked alongside a contractor on our team for two months and we clashed. We had contrarian views on anything we talked about; I didn’t believe that was possible, but it is. We are both software engineers who write code. Our differences would often come to head in my code reviews. I’d disagree with an approach taken and it would often result in long, and very exhausting discussions.

One day it came to head, a disagreement on some code, some code so insignificant I can’t recall what it was. Whether it was the fatigue of long winding conversations to nowhere or just pent up frustration, I snapped. Saying something along the lines of “you aren’t writing good code, we are having to spend time correcting mistakes”.

I said this in an open office environment, surrounded by colleagues in our team. I apologised shortly after; even if the criticism I had leveled were founded in truth, no one deserves to be belittled or spoken to how I did.

That one moment of overflown anger has been on my mind for almost 18 months now. I constantly replayed the few minutes of disagreement in my head and over time my replays have transitioned from words to just how I felt.

I mostly felt: embarrassment and guilt.

Embarrassment, I think of myself as a calm person, I don’t yell or become frustrated at other people and it embarrassed me that I let it happen.

Guilt, it isn’t right to attempt to make someone feel bad for doing their job, a job at which they were trying at isn’t an acceptable way to treat someone.

Everyone should know that treating another person poorly is one of the worst traits a human can exhibit. It isn’t hard to treat everyone you interact with decency. It makes me cringe to see people do the opposite and knowing I did that makes me cringe at the thought of it.

This small incident took up a lot of headspace for a while, but I’ve since used to to inform how I act towards other people.

If I ever find myself in a difficult relationship, I’ll always take a minute before replying; try to understand how we got into this situation and find an amicable way out of it. A sprinkle of humour helps too.

Some people will say that yelling and aggression toward other people is a way of asserting dominance. I disagree, it is embarrassing to witness or do. I think every interaction with another person forms a small part of how that person will remember you going forward. So, just be decent.