3rd Mar, 2023

Separating my Ideas from my Ego

This is something I’ve been actively working on for some time now. Today was the first time I noticed that I seem to have made a lot of progress in this regard. Here’s what’s happened:

We’re working on multiple apps. Both of them use msw to mock responses from the APIs we're running against. One of them also has msw data set up, allowing for very configurable responses. The one uses static JSON-Fixtures as responses. I was working on the latter and hit a case where having msw data would have been really helpful.
It quickly became clear that we eventually wanted to use msw data in this app as well. So my thought was: I’ll just lay the groundwork and make it work for my current needs. After that, we can just gradually move the test suites over whenever someone is touching them. I communicated that idea. Timo had a different opinion. We went on and had a discussion with the whole team.

This discussion was great. A lot of arguments were presented (a lot of which I had not thought of at all) and no one took anything personal. Including me. This is kind of a big thing for me, because I identify with my work a lot (which is another problem). This also means that I often thought my ideas and opinions about things were linked to me personally. This, in turn, would mean that I saw criticism on my arguments and ideas as personal attacks.
Now, this was problematic, because I was no longer working towards a common goal (making the best product possible) but instead towards winning an argument for the sake of winning.

In the middle of the discussion, I realized that my initial argument was flawed, considered all the other input, and I moved away from it. In the end, we settled for a solution somewhere in the middle, that I’m quite happy with.
I’m a lot happier with the feeling the discussion left me with, though. I was able to see all facets of the problem and could help to work toward a solution that would be best for our common goal. This would not have been possible had I been personally offended all the time.

The next thing I need to work on is to stand my ground more when I'm sure my argument is objectively right. Not as easy for me as it sounds.

I recently read that all advice on the internet is wrong, and you should not give any. So I’m taking this advice and will not summarize this post in a sentence that tells you what to do. But keep your ego out of arguments.

© 2024 Chris Jarling