Shifting from program management to programming also affects your social life


My colleague who switched from program management to programming has this to say about unintended consequences:

  1. My wife says that I am much more pleasant to be around.
  2. My social skills appear to have become a lot better, which is really counter-intuitive to the standard image of a developer.

My take on this is that I developed through the needs of my job as a lead program manager the ability to talk to anyone at any time to get a particular issue dealt with, but that I didn't necessarily want to do this or enjoy the process. After work or on the weekends, my wife was hard pressed to get me to see other people. Now, there is no such issue. The reduction in forced human interaction is such that I am no longer overstretching my ability to interact with people, thus rendering me able to undertake those interactions and actually enjoy it.

Of course, this doesn't necessarily work for lifelong programmers, since they may not ever have developed these social skills to begin with!

Comments (29)
  1. What? says:

    "thus rendering me able to undertake those interactions"

    Are you making this stuff up? Nobody I’ve ever met speaks like that.

  2. Frank says:

    What?: Have you ever worked at a large tech company?

  3. Tim Dawson says:

    Some people actually like to flex their vocabulary a little. One of the side effects of being a person continually seeking to better themselves.

  4. Steve says:

    It looked to me like he wrote it. I agree with Tim, some people actually use more complex syntax in their everyday speech if for no other reason than the sheer enjoyment of it.

  5. DavidE says:

    Keep in mind that most people react favorably to changes that they choose to make. If this guy was feeling a little burned out in his old job, his new job would make him feel a bit more energetic, and that would spill over to his non-working life.

  6. Ben Craig says:

    Or he could just be one of those people that gets "socially exhausted".  After dealing with people for a while, he needs to be left alone to recharge his batteries.  With the change in position, he may be able to do the recharging at work instead of at home.

  7. :: Wendy :: says:

    That is silly-speak. No-wonder he’s happier being a Dev without having to talk to people too much.   Constrain your creativity to the code and avoid having to construct those sentences…

    (tongue firmly in cheek)

  8. All this means is:

    a) He has the ego the size of Bill Gates.

    b) He is not Bill Gates and is unhappy about that.

    c) He does not like anyone he talks too.

    d) Since he is not forced into talking to anyone (or anyone he doesn’t like – which is everyone – example c), he can use the patience he once used in the office around people he’s exposed too after work.

    e) He likes producing things (programming) that are relevant and used versus a specification which is largely never used.  

    f) He’s really unfortunate that he "overstretches" his "ability" to interact with other people.

    Too bad for him.  Does your blog get interesting?  I expected to find this entry on Dr. Phil’s website.

  9. says:

    Harsh, Phillip! When’s the last time you saw Dr. Phil prattling on about the executable headers of win32 PEs? =)

  10. I know! It sounds horribly harsh, but can any rational person honestly conclude much other than this? Even if your afraid to say it?  I mean, do we really need the day by day thoughts of an ex-program manager’s wife on his happiness?  LOL.  It’s just not that fulfilling from someone I respect.

    In other news, Dr. Phil solves all Windows problems!  user-error.dll

  11. Mike says:

    Perhaps this could be seen as Raymond just sharing some parts of what he find interesting IRL when he stumbles across them, and not only hard-code Windows programming? I mean, c’mon people, it’s a blog. There is a person, a real living human behind the blog.

    I personally found this entry amusing – a piece that pointed in the complete opposite direction of the stereotype of a developer. Raymonds punchline does however remove any and all hopes for us that started programming at young age. :-)

  12. teehee says:

    Oh good god. "interesting" for the average person usually doesnt mean digging deep into the innards of windows, and even for the less average people that read this blog it gets tiring. By the way, do you not have a sense of humor? This entry is obviously not completely serious.

  13. Rick C says:

    I work with people who speak that way all day long.  Usually program managers.

  14. tsrblke says:

    >Are you making this stuff up? Nobody I’ve ever met speaks like that.

    Also note, no one said he actually *spoke* those words, they could have been in an email or even an (gasp) old school style paper letter.  I’ve noticed that when I write emails I tend to use more formal (and flowery) language.

  15. bramster says:

    Harsh, Philip

    Although I understand very little of the code samples Raymond presents, the essence of the posts and many of the comments (except your’s) have been helpful.  

    I read, I think "Hmmmmmm"

    To have possible explanations to what was heretofore a mystery, to me, is always a gift.

  16. :: Wendy :: says:

    Ithought this was aslf-help group for developers,  like ‘alocoholics’ anonymous,  only for coders and Raymond is the group facilitator.  Was I wrong?  Love the banter,  keep it up or "raise your emotuional orientation to support your aspirations" do it!

    I’m off for a beer…

  17. Ashod Nakashian says:

    Raymond wrote:

    "Of course, this doesn’t necessarily work for lifelong programmers, since they may not ever have developed these social skills to begin with!"

    Not to mention that not all managers feel that way about socializing. I have similar responibilities and I don’t feel forced in any way to talk to my fellow engineers to get an issue fixed or dealt with.

    -Ash

  18. What what? says:

    You can "say" things over email.

  19. tsrblke says:

    What what?>

    Thanks for clarifying my original point.  Say and spoke are two different things.  But that’s neither here nor there.

    Reading through this and the comments I can fully understand where this guy is comming from.  Managing any group of people inevitably taxes on your social stamina.  In any said group, it’s likely there will be one person you don’t like and are forced to deal with to resolve a problem. I can understand how this would eventually tax your social stamina.  In any normal situation you’d probably just not deal with people you don’t like.

  20. What? says:

    > Also note, no one said he actually *spoke* those words

    "My colleague […] has this to say"

  21. Merle says:

    Okay, I’ll be the one positive note here, and say "WORD!".

    I love talking with content experts about how things should be done.  I loathe having to actively manage people, and having to be the go-between between the grunt troops and upper management.

    Some people are introverts.  There is no problem with that.  But there is this misguided concept that we should take senior programmers and make them into managers, just because they have many years’ experience.  Some people <em>prefer</em> to code.

    I am one of those people.  Coming up on eighteen years in the industry, I prefer architecting, designing, and coding.  Colleagues are nice, but managing them, getting estimates from them, and the like, is not up my alley.  I have resisted the move up to "management", much to the detriment of my career — but I am happier for it.

  22. That one Ian guy says:

    This comment thread could be cited as an example of why I stopped blogging.

  23. not important says:

    "This comment thread could be cited as an example of why I stopped blogging."

    And why is that? You can’t take people not agreeing with you? You can’t take criticism? Who are you anyway? And why do we care?

  24. What? says:

    You can "say" things over email.

    Really? You must be one of those people who try speaking into his mouse.

  25. I’m asked many times when would I like to move up from programmer’s job. Most of the times this question came from my friends who are also working as a programmer. It seems that most of the local programmers are hoping to move levels up within the organi

  26. I’m asked many times when would I like

    to move up from programmer’s job. Most of the times this question came

    from my friends who are also working as a programmer. It seems that

    most of the local programmers are hoping to move levels up within the

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