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Catch-Up: When Good People Make Bad Choices

The saying goes “To the left of me, lazy. To the right of me, crazy.”. It’s human nature to think that we know the right way things ought to be done. This is true for us as IT folks and may even be true in our religious life. However, religion has A LOT to say about how, when, and why you might offer “correction”, and that may inform the ways in which we offer advice to our wayward IT bretheren. In this episode Josh, Doug, and Leon explore the ways in which our religious sensibilities can inform the way we help our colleagues to stay on the straight and narrow. Listen or read the transcript below.

Kate: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experience we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We are not here to preach or teach you our religion or lack thereof. We’re here to explore ways we make our careers as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is Technically Religious

Leon: 00:25 As the saying goes “To the left of me, lazy to the right of me, crazy” It’s human nature to think that we know the right way that things ought to be done. This is true for us as IT folks and may even be true in our religious life. However, religion has a lot to say about how when and why you might offer correction and that may inform the ways in which we offer advice to our wayward IT brethren. I’m Leon Adato and the other voices you’re going to hear on this episode are my partners in podcast crime, Josh Biggley,

Josh: 00:55 Hi-di-ho, neighbor!

Leon: 00:57 And Doug Johnson.

Doug: 00:58 Hi, dee-ho?

Leon: 01:02 Right! Now he’s a resident Canadian. He’s got to do that. It’s like a thing.

Josh: 01:06 It’s true. I just want to point out before we jump in that we also have, um, IT Sistren? I don’t know what the word is for that.

Leon: 01:13 Yeah, no, that’s true. IT, yeah. Folks,

Doug: 01:16 Sistern!

Leon: 01:18 No, we’re not doing that. It folks. F. O. L. X. Yes, you’re right. Um,

Josh: 01:23 So F O L. X. Great. And now we’re talking in l33t speak. This is fantastic.

Leon: 01:28 No, it’s, it’s good. It’s a thing.

Doug: 01:29 Totally woke.

Leon: 01:29 All right, before we dive into the actual topic, I’d like to give everyone a chance for some shameless self promotion. Josh, why don’t you kick it off?

Josh: 01:37 I’m Josh Biggley. I am a senior engineer of enterprise monitoring. You can find me on the Twitters at uh, at @jbiggley. I’ve also started up a new Twitter handle called, uh, uh, what’s it called? Wait, uh, @DataGeekCA because I was, I was shamed for not having a Data Geek Canada, uh, tag. So now I do. Um, if you want, you can go to www.faithtransitions.ca and follow along with my faith transitions community, uh, for religious observance? Currently Post-Mormon transitioning into ex-Mormon.

New Speaker: 02:12 Great. How about you Doug?

Doug: 02:13 I’m the CTO of WaveRFID. We do inventory software as a service using a radio-frequency identifier tags to go ahead and track glasses and things in medical offices. I’m not on social media at all anymore. I just was spending way too much time on it and I decided to bail. But you can find out about our company at www.waveRFID.net and uh, I’m basically in evangelical Christian.

Leon: 02:39 Great. And for those people who are scribbling down this stuff, you know that we’re going to have show notes usually a day after the podcast drops so you can stop scribbling and keep listening. Um, I’m Leon Adato. I am a Head Geek at SolarWinds. Yes, that’s actually my job title. It’s the best one on earth. You can find me on Twitter or the Twitters, as we say at Leon Adato. You can also read my pontifications on all things technical and sometimes nontechnical at www.adatosystems.com and I identify as Orthodox Jewish sometimes to the chagrin of my Rabbi who often finds the things that I say challenging for him to have to answer for. Um, which is kind of where we are. We’re talking about people sort of going off the rails and doing bad things and what we do about it or can do about it. And what I want to do is I want to first define it like any good IT person. I want to define what we’re talking about. So we’re not talking about really bad things, we’re not talking about things that would get you into an orange jumpsuit or have you do hard time. But what are the things that we’re talking about?

Josh: 03:44 Oh, I’m going to do a really bad thing right now and I’m going to tell you that I found your next job.

Leon: 03:49 Okay.

Josh: 03:49 I was in New York city recently and I had a chance to talk with the lead Site Reliability Engineer for Marvel.

Leon: 03:59 <gasping>

Josh: 04:01 Yes.

Leon: 04:01 <sounds of wonder and amazement>

Josh: 04:01 For Marvel.

Leon: 04:01 Okay.

Josh: 04:05 This, this. If Leon ever gets fired…

Doug: 04:10 This is not as rare as you might think.

Leon: 04:13 Right!?!

Josh: 04:15 I mean that’s why I was looking out for him. Uh,

Leon: 04:19 It’s a thing, right?

Josh: 04:20 It is a thing. Okay. So that’s not a bad thing. I mean looking out for your, your fellow, um, your, your friends, uh, your colleagues and helping them find a role. Um, that’s a good thing. I think you should do, you know, um, much to the chagrin of Charity Majors you should not test in prod.

Leon: 04:39 Okay. Right. Yeah. People. Okay. So again, testing, testing in prod when there is a process for testing in prod I think is different than people who just try to sneak stuff in without a change control, without telling anybody they’re just going to do it and hope that they, that nobody notices. That’s the problem.

Doug: 05:00 My dev team almost tried to do that a week ago. We, we release about once every couple of weeks and we were all set to release and there was, it was Thursday we were going to be releasing that weekend cause we released it on the weekend so we don’t mess up any of our clients. And, um, there was just this one little thing that, that, uh, the product owner wanted and they said, Oh, well we can just go ahead and do that and get it done. I said, no, no, we’ll do it in the next release. No, cause they’re like a bunch of cowboys, you know, it’s like, Oh yeah, we can just put it in and fix it. It’s like, no! Bad! Fortunately, I’m CTO, so I can say “Bad. No.”

Leon: 05:37 Right. Okay. So that’s a bad thing that people do. So there’s other things though, but whether it’s IT or religious or whatever, I, so one thing that I see in the Orthodox community, people who, uh, make religious decisions for other people when they really don’t have the credibility to do it. Like they might have a position in the synagogue, maybe they lead really well or they’re just always there and present and they feel like that gives them the right to, um, say “You ought to do blah, blah.” Or “Here I can tell you how to do this thing.” Um, and that’s honestly, that’s the job of the rabbi. That’s why the rabbis there. Um, so I think that that’s, that’s another one of those bad things that that fits within the framework of what we’re talking.

Doug: 06:22 It happens with Bible instructors in Christianity, the guys who are teaching the classes and that kind of stuff, people look to them for guidance where really you should be going. The kinds of things that they talking about. You should be going to the elders or the, the, uh, pastors. Okay.

Josh: 06:37 So the great irony, in Mormonism, at least at the local level, they practice lay ministry. That means that you are literally asking your plumber or your accountant for marriage advice because there is no training for clergy.

Leon: 06:59 I can see that being problematic. I’m not trying to, I’m not trying to trigger the post-Mormon here. I just, you know,

Josh: 07:06 Too late. I’m already triggered.

Doug: 07:08 Although I could, I could see the examples that the plumber would use for marriage counseling,

ALL: 07:14 <hysterical laughing>

Doug: 07:14 Just saying.

Leon: 07:14 Oh my God! <laughing>.

Josh: 07:15 This have anything to do with the melons?

Leon: 07:19 Okay, wait, the melons are later. Don’t spoil the melons.

Doug: 07:25 I’m sorry.

Leon: 07:27 So what are some other things moving along…

Doug: 07:31 In IT, for instance, one of the things that is, uh, people who are architects for instance, tend to go ahead and just say, well, this is the only way we’re, this is the way we’re gonna do it no matter what. Whereas in Agile, it’s supposed to be the team come suit decision. But if you’ve got somebody who is got strong opinions and is in a position of I’m going to put power in quotes, or even if they just have a strong personality, they can go ahead and cut the discussion short, um, way too soon.

Leon: 08:04 Right. That’s a bad thing. Okay.

Josh: 08:06 Yeah. And I think that, that, that ties in nicely with the, the religious context of thinking that you are better than somebody else, that, that holier than thou thing. I mean, um, some, uh, some people that we meet in our careers really do think that they are gods and that what they say is they can’t go wrong. And unfortunately we run into those people in our religious observance, hell, we run into those people in, you know, in our coaching experiences. In our, you know, when you’re out talking, you know, geek stuff with just, they’re everywhere. Don’t, don’t be that person.

Doug: 08:47 All right. Right. On the flip side of that though, the more I learn about God, the worse I realize I am.

Josh: 08:53 Yes. That is, that is true. No, no, no. I mean [inaudible]

Doug: 08:56 I’m holier than nobody at this point!

Leon: 09:00 Oh, so look who’s nobody now, uh-huh. There’s a joke that goes along with that. I’ll post it in the show notes. Um, okay. And one thing that’s worth mentioning just to wrap this up, the kinds of stuff that we’re talking about, again, the kinds of things that we notice in our daily lives that cause us to want to issue a correction are just the low level office type cheating that you see people cheating on their time sheet, fudging on their expense reports, taking credit for work they didn’t do.

Doug: 09:27 Those are bad things?

Leon: 09:27 Things those are, yeah, yeah, they’re, they’re bad. Um, those are things that, those are things that again, don’t get me off track man, that really are, are meant. Those are the things that we can find difficult to avoid the impulse to want to just call them on the carpet and tell them that this is a problem. Meanwhile, there’s a question about whether or not we should call whether or not we should avoid the impulse, whether that’s in fact the the moment to do it. Um, but I, before we get there, I, I want to do a little bit of psychoanalysis, a little bit of sort of sociological, uh, digging. Why do these hah, don’t people know better? I mean, come on. You know, these are not new concepts. We’ve all been on both the receiving, we’ve been on the receiving end of these people should know better. Why does this, why do you think these things keep happening?

Josh: 10:21 So I had this conversation a couple of months ago with my friend and colleague, Zack Mutchler and Zack is a former Marine or is a Marine. I don’t know how Marines refer to themselves once they aren’t active anymore. Um, but he said this to me, he said, Josh, all Marines are soldiers. That’s it. It doesn’t make them good people. They’re not any more trustworthy than anybody else. They’re just Marines. Now, he did say that Marines are generally on the battlefield exemplary, but he said, stop, stop putting expectations of how you think people should behave just because they wear a particular label. And I thought, well, I mean that’s interesting and maybe it’s my expectations of people that are really falling down. And that is in both a religious context as well as the IT context. Like when I look at a fellow senior engineer, I have an expectation that they are going to function at a rather high level, but I’m a senior engineer after 20 years in the IT industry, someone else might be a senior engineer after six we might have the same technical knowledge, but certainly not the same context. Maybe not the same emotional maturity. Um, same business acumen. So, perhaps it’s me who’s,… my expectations are incorrect?

Leon: 11:55 Interesting. Right? So, so just because people come from a particular community or ascribe to a particular philosophy or faith or whatever, doesn’t mean that they naturally and automatically have all the traits that that group proclaims as being important or good.

Josh: 12:16 Yes. You are not just a good engineer because you like Linux.

Leon: 12:20 Um, okay, fine. All right. [Laughter] Took me a minute to swallow that one, but all right, so stipulated. I will take that one. Um, yeah, and I think that also says a lot about the nature of how we are all at our heart learners from, from the day we’re born. We are learning. So you know, I am learning how to be, how to become a better engineer, Linux sysadmin, Jew, whatever it is, you don’t automatically get like all the prizes. Um, so I can, I, I can see that, but I can also see how sometimes we want to, we want to give those traits because in some respects we need it. I need you to be that good. I need you to be that trustworthy right now and the, because you come from this group where you co you have this as part of your background that that’s what I’m, I’m projecting on you, but now I need this and when you don’t have it, I’m let down. And that’s where the frustration can come. I also like the idea that, uh, you know, people, like you said, people are just people or as I put it a little bit more crassly Judaism has not in fact found the cure for the common asshole. Yeah.

Josh: 13:34 Oh, well that’s it, no, I’m going to, I’m not going to be Jewish anymore.

Leon: 13:39 Okay. I just said we haven’t found the cure we were looking for the cure. Yeah. No religion, no ethical point of view. No, uh, spin class. No CrossFit cult has found the, has found it.

Doug: 13:56 No, I mean most people are just, I mean at most people are selfish, but I mean a lot of what we do, a lot of what religions about a lot of becoming an adult is burying some of that selfishness or at least disguising. And so that people can’t tell that we’re as selfish as we are. But I mean, a lot of this stuff just comes from trying to give myself a leg up over somebody else. I mean the, the whole, uh, “woke” thing now with everybody’s saying, you know, you’ve got white privilege and therefore you should decry it and all that kind of stuff. And I’m going, nobody gives up their privilege. Right? If you were in a country that was predominantly African and Whites were, uh, the ones that were being beaten on you, would, nobody in that country would give up their black privilege. It’s just not gonna happen. We can try and we can try and improve on that. We can be conscious of it. We can become better human beings, um, and, and try and make things more open for the whole world. But the reality is our bent is to go ahead and take care of ourselves, our kids, our family, our tribe first. And a lot of the stuff that comes to that is because of that.

Leon: 15:13 Well, well that’s, that’s certainly part of the biological imperative. I also think that when we talk about privilege specifically, it’s not so much give up your privilege as A) acknowledge it. Don’t just say that, Hey, it all is mine and you can be yours too. Like, no, sometimes there are really strong societal factors that block it, but also, um, I won’t say, nobody’s saying give up the white privilege. What I am saying is that, um, to acknowledge and then use the privilege to create a more just and a more equal environment moving forward, which sounds like giving up privilege, but it is the same thing as saying, well if I, if I have this one candle and I light more candles, I’m not actually giving up light. Like, it doesn’t diminish it. And that’s the same thing. You know, when you use your privilege to open up the space for other people, you aren’t in fact losing anything.

Doug: 16:10 Right. But I think I, you know, it’s not, I don’t think it is most people’s bent to do that. We have to work at that. That’s why that’s why we’re doing this show. I mean the reality is it’s stuff that we think about. It’s because we are working on it as you said, cause we’re learners. Um, not everybody is. Some people are just perfectly happy to just take everything that they can possibly get and just kind of crank on the lawn. There’s a lot of people like that.

Josh: 16:37 I think there’s a lot of, a lot of people in the world too who are generally good people and for me this is, this is the hardest one where you find people that do mostly good things and then they justify doing that one bad thing. And I don’t mean I do mostly good things and then one day I suddenly decide that I’m going to, I’m going a pocket a candy bar while I’m in the store. I mean, I do mostly good things and then one day I do a really despicable, awful thing. When that happens, whether by choice or circumstance, which leads you to a choice. That’s a really a really challenging thing to be the person who decides to do that bad thing. And when we look from the outside and say, Oh that, I can’t believe that Josh did that horrible thing. Inside I’m saying, yeah, but it was, it was just a little thing. Context. Justin Trudeau is the prime minister in Canada. We are currently in the midst of an election and it has come to light that Justin Trudeau, uh, dressed in black face a number of times, not once, not twice, not three times, but he doesn’t remember how many times it occurred. And to him, he’s saying, well, that was me then. This is me now. And on the outside we’re saying, Oh my goodness. Now, um, I’m not going to tell you where I weigh in on that debate because I don’t think it matters. It’s, at least in Justin’s mind it sounds like he saying, but I mostly do good things, but I did one bad thing.

Leon: 18:29 So there’s an interesting concept, uh, from the Jewish standpoint about free will and without going too deeply into it. And for those people who want to look it up and put in the show notes, rabbi Akiva Tatz has some interesting thoughts on this, but the, uh, the free will is you don’t express your free will when you put on your socks in the morning or where you pick your cereal. That’s not freewill. That’s habit. Even if you pick Lucky Charms instead of frosted flakes or whatever, that’s still not freewill. Freewill exists in a very particular point in our lives where we make a decision that challenges us in some way. So when you woke up in the morning you had to think really hard and make a really extended effort not to go out on the street and knock over an old lady and steal her purse. Right.

Josh: 19:16 I did!

Leon: 19:18 Okay. That’s probably not okay. That’s probably not where we’re at, but there are people who wake up and that is a challenging question. Not because they’re bad people, but you know because there’s a circumstance because there’s a context because of whatever and the decision not to go rob somebody is a very challenging one. That is the point at which their free will is operating. Saying that their free will allows them to go to their place of worship and pray about, that is light years ahead in the same that for me going to a Yeshiva like my boys do and learning all day is beyond my skills and capabilities. And to put that standard on me is, is unfair where I am at personally with my line of freewill, that’s the battleground. That is that line and it moves back and forth. So what you’re talking about, Josh is somebody for whom that battleground was in a particular place at a particular time and that battleground has shifted. And so that saying that’s not who I am right now is in fact true, but at the same time it is who you were and there’s a level of responsibility that we bear for that. Now what that is is also an interesting conversation both religiously and also, you know, in tech and things like that. You know, I am somebody who, uh, did not and purposely did not declare variables before using them.

Doug: 20:47 I’m not even going to go there. Yes, I know. I’ve known that. I’ve known this about Leon for decades.

Leon: 20:53 Yes, yes. It was something I proudly, I did proudly. And, uh, that is no longer the point at which I struggle. So there’s, but there, yeah, Josh has a look on his face for those people listening. Josh has look, like he doesn’t even know who I am anymore. He’s not even sure we can be friends.

Josh: 21:12 In fact, I was thinking that very thing. I don’t know if we can be friends anymore, Leon.

Leon: 21:16 But again, my point is, is that, um, but, but just to, to pull it back around again, you know, why do people do these bad things? So in some cases, this is the point at which their struggle is at, this happens to be their struggle point and, and they’re going to go back and forth and they’re going to work really hard at it and, and hopefully they make progress in the correct and the good right direction about it. That’s one thing. Why else? Again, I’m going to get us back on track. Why else do people, uh, you know, fall into these traps?

Doug: 21:47 Peer pressure. I mean, everybody else around you is doing it. Um, in fact, that that can even happen in religious communities. The whole, um, you can have situations where, um, in Christianity we’re supposed to reach out to people regardless of their sin, because the whole point is to save people from their sin. And yet there are certain people who if they show up in the church, um, you know, they’re going to be, they will be shunned by the people who are there, even though this is a person who you can, should actually be meeting where they are. Um, you know, there, I mean there’s, there’s, there are specific churches that reach out to people who were on drugs or to the homeless or to all these that other churches would have nothing to do with. And that should, and is that wrong? Well, it’s not wrong if you look at everybody else in your church, and that’s what people are doing, they’re going, well, you know, yeah, we’ll, we’ll go down and help the homeless as long as we drive to where they are and they don’t come to our church.

Leon: 22:52 Right, right.

Josh: 22:53 So back in 2013, uh, uh, uh, a Mormon Bishop, uh, named David Musselman, um, he dressed up as a, as a homeless man and walked into his congregation and he was, aghast at the response that he got from his congregants. Um, I mean for some people he, you know, he got, he got great responses from, you know, uh, offers, uh, food, um, offers of assistance. But he also had, he also had people who wanted him to leave because he didn’t fit, um, he didn’t fit that, that model. He wasn’t wearing a suit and he wasn’t clean. Yeah. The hub, that pressure to conform is real.

Leon: 23:50 So I’ve seen that. I’ve seen that in communities where, uh, it’s not even the, the individual. The thing is we don’t want to become the synagogue where those people come. Where, you know, we don’t want to be known as the synagogue for, for those kinds of people. And “those kinds of people” is an interesting mix. But you know, so we will do things which subtly let those people know this isn’t their place, you know, and it can be everything from not calling page numbers, like just not calling page numbers. If you don’t know where you are, probably not your place, you know, those kinds of things.

Josh: 24:30 I would suggest that our listeners go out and I would love to see some vigorous debate on the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Experiment at Yale University. Um, the latter of which involved, uh, someone in authority telling, uh, telling a volunteer to shock an individual in another room. Uh, I mean there’s, there’s, there will be volumes written on these two particular experiments, but I think they tie in nicely to that pressure to conform.

Leon: 25:02 Okay, great. Um, okay, so moving along, uh, now that we have a sense or we’ve explored a little bit why people do do that, what does religion specifically say about how we should address these kinds of things? Again, we see it happening, it bothers us, and now we have an urge to go do something about it, to address that person or to to act in some way. What does our religious, uh, framework tell us about what we ought to be doing?

Josh: 25:35 I mean, Jesus went into the temple with a cat o’ nine tails and turned over the tables of the money changers and kicked them all out. Isn’t that how we respond? This is why I work remote. I’m just going to point that out. [Laughter]

Doug: 25:48 So if you’re the Messiah, I think you can get away with stuff like that. How’s that?

Josh: 25:52 Okay.

Leon: 25:55 I got, I got nothing.

Doug: 25:57 It’s different rules. But uh, in Christianity, um, in Matthew 18, basically it says, if your brother sins against you, you should go to him. And if you can win him back, you know, you go to him privately and if you can win him back, then you’ve won your brother. If he refuses to hear you, then you go back with two or three others so that all of the facts can be, you know, in public. And if he still refuses, then you take him before the church and if he still refuses to go ahead and repent, then you basically, you treat him like a tax collector and a, Oh, I forgot what the other word is. But in any case, but you don’t kick him out of the church, but he’s no longer one of your brothers. You don’t treat him that way.

Josh: 26:42 So Christianity sounds like the Mob.

Doug: 26:44 Well it is to a certain extent except that you know, it is your brother has sinned against you. So this is, yeah.

Leon: 26:52 Right. Okay. So, and that was the point I was going to bring up is that this is where you’re saying somebody has wronged you in some way and so you of course have, I’m going to say the right, but you, you have the, the option of saying, Hey, this really bothers me and I need you to do something about it. You know, and the person you know has to, has to face up to it. That’s interesting. What’s interesting about this is that, uh, in the Jewish tradition, the focus that you just described is actually the opposite, the opposite way about what repentance is. That if you have something you need to repent for, there’s this process. And the first thing is first of all, acknowledge to yourself that you did something wrong. And the second thing is to apologize to tell the person that you have wronged that you know you’ve done this. The third thing is to compensate. And so if possible, you know, to repair the thing that was broken or to pay for a replacement, whatever it is, can compensate. But then there’s a fourth step and repentance is not complete until the fourth step occurs. And that’s when given the opportunity to make the same mistake, the same sin again, you don’t. And that until that occurs, you have not really fully repented. And there’s a whole sense of, you know, waiting for this moment to come where it’s like, Oh, this is just like the last time, except now I’m going to be doing, I’m going to do it differently. And that’s what proves it. So to go back, Josh, to your point about the person who was dressing up in blackface, if given the opportunity to dress up that way, again, if they chose not to, that might be again, assuming all the other stuff had been done, you know, and it was sincere and all that stuff. But it’s interesting that those are two sides of the same coin, right? One is when you have been wronged, what do you ask the other person to do? And hopefully they will take the lead and go ahead and on the other side, if you’ve done wrong, now you’ve got this, this problem, this feeling and I need to do something with it. I needed to act. So how do I do that? So having said that, the, the process for rebuke, the process for giving somebody a, you know, a correction in Judaism is again, like most things pretty, uh, pretty well organized. And it says first of all that if you see someone, if you see a friend walking a bad path, so it’s not about someone doing something to you, you see them walking a bad path, um, then it is a commandment. It’s a mitzvah. But that means commandment to return them to the good. If you don’t, you are liable for the punishment of the sins your friend committed. Basically by failing to do something, by failing to act, you are ha you have ownership of the bad stuff they do because you could have stopped him. However, there’s a whole series of buts that go along this. You have to get this rebuke privately and gently, okay, not publicly, not out. You know, and you have to do it for the person’s good. That means that you have to make sure that in your heart there is no ounce of glee. There’s no ounce of excitement that Oh, I finally give to give him what for and whatever that you have to be able to do it for their good and their good only. That you have to do it with love and you have to know for a fact that the person you’re doing this to, you’re giving this rebuke is going to hear it in the spirit that you mean it. And if any of those conditions is not true, then you are commanded not to say a word. Ever. Because you are going to do more harm than good. And I find that deeply interesting that you know, it starts off by saying, Hey, if you see him doing something wrong, it is your commandment is your obligation to fix it or else it’s on you. Like they go and do something bad now your libel, but you’ve got to have this whole relationship. And if you don’t have this whole relationship back off, be quiet. And, and the reason why I like that is because the implication it has in it in our technical lives, right? And when we started putting together this, this episode, I was thinking about code review, I was thinking about when I’m picking a Doug’s code and like, Hey, Hey, there’s this, you know how you could do that better? Hey that active directory design. Yeah, no, we could, you know what gives you any right to butt your nose into somebody else’s design or on the other hand you see bad code. If you see something, say something like, which is it?

Doug: 31:27 Well it comes down to a lot of what you were talking about. Do you have, um, do you have a stake in the game? Okay. If you’re on the team that’s making this code and it’s all our code and code reviews are part of what we do, which they should be because we’re a team, please. Okay. Then the reality is it is my job. It is my commandment to go ahead and do a code review to help you to improve your code, to make our code better. However, if I’m just wandering by some other team and I look over and I see their code, I, you know, I’m just a jerk. If I jumped in,

Josh: 32:14 This feels to me like the backfire effect. So I’m, I’m just going to read the quote because I think the quote to me does a better job at explaining it than, than I ever could. “The backfire effect as claim to be that when in the face of contradictory evidence established beliefs do not change but actually get stronger.” And so I thought, wa what? What does that mean? Like when someone lays evidence in front of you and says, Josh, the earth is not flat and I aren’t, am I going to be like, Oh, Oh yeah, you’re right. Or am I just going to dig in? And all joking aside, this is fundamentally the challenge I had with Mormonism. Now remember I was a practicing Mormon for 41 years, very devout, very, I’ll even use the term Orthodox in my views. And when people would present contradictory information to me, I would go through a period of cognitive dissonance and then would realign the things that I thought I knew or was presented with now, uh, with the things that I did know, and I would just dig in stronger that that backfire effect is very real. And I remember a very specific case where I was in Las Vegas, had a couple stop myself and my companion when we were missionaries and invite us over. They said, Hey, we want to share some information with you. You know, we had a great discussion and we said, do you have any questions? And then they drop some questions on me that at 19 years old I had never heard in my entire life, but my, my response was to just dig in. So I mean, how, how do we prevent this backfire effect in our careers because it, if it happens, it is downright toxic. So how do we stop this backfire effect in our career?

Leon: 34:17 One point that was clarified in that definition, um, is that this the backfire effect doesn’t occur when you say your right blinker is broken. You know, it doesn’t occur when you say, you know, we’re out of Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms will be fine or whatever. It only occurs when you are, um, providing contradictory evidence to somebody’s deepest held beliefs to the things that they feel are central or core to who they are. So, you know, to take some hot button issues, tabs versus spaces, you know, Doug is making…[laughter]

Doug: 34:57 Don’t go there!

Leon: 35:06 You know how to pronounce the Graphics Interchange Format, abbreviation.

Josh: 35:10 Um, you obviously do not know how I feel about Lucky Charms cause you brought that up at the beginning and we come to the flippant thing and I just…

Leon: 35:22 Right, I’ve lost you. Right? Again, you’re digging in like now it’s like honey, buy 10 more boxes! Right? So it’s, it is when we challenged somebody’s deepest held beliefs, which means that we have an obligation when we are offering correction, whether it’s in our religious, moral, ethical communities or in our it communities to understand other people’s motivations that, you know, are you just saying, you know, I really think that a for loop is going to work better here. You know, or does this person for whatever reason, have a deeply held belief that you know, case, you know, that the switch construct is really fundamentally better in some way.

Josh: 35:58 I mean, data doesn’t lie. I would say run them head to head. I mean that’s just me, right? I, I, I have, I’ve built my entire career off of being wrong or more correctly. I have built my entire career off of not knowing. My, my second job in IT was given to me because I said, I don’t know. Um, I mean for, for me, it, there are a few times that this Backfire Effect has, has gripped me and made me into a monster. But by and large, I I think as IT professionals, we need to be open to being taught more often than we need to then we need to teach.

Doug: 36:42 Although one should point out that a Canadian monster is like, you know, still a fluffy puppy.

Leon: 36:47 It’s still the stay Puft marshmallow man that is literally the, you know, the embodiment of the Canadian Monster.

Josh: 36:54 Snuffaluffagus? That’s the Canadian monster.

Leon: 36:54 Rampaging Snuffaluffagus. Right. So, uh, yeah, but again, I think that Josh, your point is well taken that, that we as it professionals need to remember to be flexible to remember that we are lifelong learners. At the same time, what we’re talking about is when we ourselves are confronting somebody else who may not have come to terms with that. And when we see that we are challenging, again, not their belief in which, you know, code editor they should use, although that can be a religious war also. Um, I’m just picking them today when they’re, you know, it’s, I’ll just be generic when, when it’s not when we’re picking something trivial or minor, but rather when we’re picking something that is a foundational belief that that Backfire Effect comes to being that we need to possibly use all the structures that we just talked about, about who’s the person to deliver that message and how that message can be delivered so that the person can hear it in the right way that it’s meant and that they can grow and improve.

Doug: 38:02 As a senior dev. A lot of the work that I’ve had to do on teams is basically to coach junior devs. And the hardest part of that is that they’re just so darn enthusiastic. Um, there they just be a little more jaded. Well, I mean the PR and the thing, I had one guy that just would not code out. It was crap code, but boy, he’d get it out fast. And so, you know, the trick then was to go ahead and help him, him to improve, to give him reasons why there are better ways to go ahead and do this. Speed is not the only thing that you worry about. And, but without breaking his little spirit, you know, and it’s just, you know, it’s the, it’s exactly the, you know, there are steps that you go through where you’re just saying, okay, how am I going to phrase this in a way that is not critical, but they can see that there’s a room for improvement that they can then possibly grab hold of it. And so, you know, your goal then is as a coach to go ahead and help them become a better developer without having them hate you. In the meantime.

Destiny: 39:06 Thanks for making time for us this week to hear more of Technically Religious visit our website, TechnicallyReligious.com where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions, and connect to us on social media

Josh: 39:19 In the Bible, Matthew records by their fruits, you shall know them.

Doug: 39:23 So ironically, we’re not supposed to be judges, but we’re supposed to be fruit inspectors?!?

Josh: 39:29 Doug, are you looking at my melons?

Leon: 39:32 [Laughter] I cannot be having this conversation.

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