Do you suffer from Slack notification anxiety? On-call schedules and deadlines giving you nightmares? Are your teammates nitpicking your code during code review?
Instead of quitting your job out of frustration and having to go through another round of technical interviews, what if you knew how to have a great relationship with your work?
Learn how to deal with imposter syndrome, unrealistic deadlines, and stop communicating passive-aggressively today! Communicate effectively with your team and finish the day feeling good about what you’ve accomplished.
Listen to our conversation with Dr. Randy Paterson, a psychologist and author practicing in Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of “The Assertiveness Workbook - How to express your ideas and stand up for yourself at work and in relationships.”Apple Podcasts | Spotify
About our guest
Dr. Randy Paterson is a Psychologist and author practicing in Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of How to be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use; The Assertiveness Workbook; Private Practice Made Simple; Your Depression Map, and How to be Miserable in Your Twenties. He’s a prolific public speaker. He also has a YouTube channel called Psychology Salon.
He taught us effective skills we can use to feel better about our daily jobs as developers. Learn how to tell your manager that the project is running late without being the negative person in the team. And how to deal with conflict without freaking out.
Whether you’ve experienced any of these situations at work or have heard stories about it, it’s always good to learn how to communicate better and avoid resentments. Enjoy the episode and share it with a friend or colleague!
- Save your spot for the hexdevs Software Design Workshop and take the next right step for your career
- Dr. Randy Paterson’s website
- The Assertiveness Workbook - How to express your ideas and stand up for yourself at work and in relationships
- PsychologySalon with Dr. Randy Paterson - YouTube channel
- First Person Plural: Emotional Intelligence & Beyond podcast
Unhappy as a Developer? How Not To Be Miserable with Dr. Randy Paterson - Transcript
[00:00:52] Thiago Araujo: Dr. Randy Paterson is a psychologist and author from Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of how to be miserable forty strategies you already use, which is a really great title for the book he’s also the author of the assertiveness workbook, your depression map, private practice made simple and how to be miserable in your twenties, another great title.
[00:01:28] Thiago Araujo: He is a prolific public speaker. He also has a YouTube channel called how to be miserable.
[00:01:35] Stefanni Brasil: I came across Dr. Paterson’s work because my therapist, Dr. Jane Woo recommended his book, the assertiveness workbook, all I can say is that it changed my life . And as I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think that much of the problems that we face everyday as developers are caused by poor communication and lack of social skills.
[00:01:58] Stefanni Brasil: After all, we are still humans, and although Dr. Paterson might not be familiar with which the specific situations we face in our daily work as developers, the assertiveness skills themselves are kind of the same across in any organization. And you couldn’t be any different with software. So I’m super happy to have Dr. Paterson has our guest today. Dr. Paterson welcome to the hexdevs podcast.
[00:02:25] Randy Patterson: Thank you for having me.
[00:02:26] Stefanni Brasil: I would like to get us started by asking you. What is a assertiveness and what isn’t assertiveness
[00:02:34] Randy Patterson: well, when we talk about assertiveness, usually it’s as one of four basic communication styles. And, in the assertiveness workbook, I like to, use a kind of a theater stage metaphor.
[00:02:48] Randy Patterson: The passive style is the first of those styles. And in the passive style, everybody’s allowed onstage, you know, your other team members, your boss, your, family members, and so on, everybody’s allowed on stage. They’re allowed to have their opinions. They’re allowed to say what they want and your job is to be down in the audience.
[00:03:07] Randy Patterson: You know, just supporting them, not say you’re not allowed on stage. The second style is the, the aggressive style and the aggressive style you’re allowed onstage, but it’s a little bit like a Sumo wrestling ring because your job is to get everybody else off the stage, right. And, and push everybody into the, out, into the audience.
[00:03:27] Randy Patterson: Their job is to be audience for you. So you’re the only person who counts your way has to be the way that wins. You have to win every encounter and make sure that people sort of obey you. The third style is the passive aggressive style. And in this one, you want to get your own way, but you’re a little bit anxious about getting a counter attack from other people.
[00:03:53] Randy Patterson: And so you do it in a sneaky way. So you talk to your coworkers behind the boss’s back rather than addressing the issue directly, or you’re given a job and you do it so badly that, you know, you will never be asked to do it again, rather than just saying, I would rather not do this. There’s a number of other ways that they, the passive aggressive style comes out, but you get the picture. The assertive style involves direct communication in which you’re allowed onstage, but so is everyone else. Everybody is important. Everybody’s opinion counts. There might be some people who have a, an opinion based on great expertise and frankly their opinion counts more than yours, but, everybody is worthy of equal respect.
[00:04:44] Randy Patterson: You know, for example, if I’m in a room with a nuclear physicist, I presume that the nuclear physicist knows more about that topic than I do, but I’m still a human being, right. It doesn’t mean that my opinions about nuclear physics are necessarily as informed as hers. But Assertiveness, I mean, for many people, they think of assertiveness as being kind of like watered down aggression.
[00:05:06] Randy Patterson: Like you’re going to be really obnoxious, but it’s just like, aggressiveness without the yelling. And that’s totally a misunderstanding of what assertiveness is. Assertiveness is always, or almost always very relaxed, very open, but characterized by clarity. So you’re actually saying what it is that you mean in a way that is not attacking the other person.
[00:05:32] Randy Patterson: Maybe that gives some idea at any rate.
[00:05:34] Stefanni Brasil: Yeah. There was a great explanation and you kind of touched on an important point of why assertiveness can be hard for people to develop. I can say from my experience, I had this misconception for sure. What I thought assertiveness meant was that I would be harsh.
[00:05:54] Stefanni Brasil: I would be unkind. And I had lots of people treating me that way. So I was like, no, I don’t want to be that way. And I know that you touch, you touch this in your book, the reasons why it’s so hard for some people to be assertive. And I wonder if you could just briefly share what are the reasons that hold people back? Like what are their most situations that prevent people?
[00:06:20] Randy Patterson: One of them means that idea that being assertive means being aggressive. Their idea of assertiveness is some kind of maybe they’ve seen some fBI SWAT team go in somewhere on some television show and they imagined that that’s what assertiveness is.
[00:06:35] Randy Patterson: "Stefanni. What I want you to do right now is turn down the volume on your microphone, you idiot", or something to that effect. That’s completely not what it is. There’s also the sense that if you’re assertive, you get your way and nobody else gets theirs. People like to be kind of democratic. A sense that everybody counts and that’s really what assertiveness is all about, but the image it has is if I’m assertive about what restaurant we go to, we’re going to my restaurant, regardless of what you think.
[00:07:07] Randy Patterson: Right? So I’m really pulling rank for everybody. And I’m saying exactly what you are going to do. It’s not about that at all. You know, when I first wrote the book, I was doing a lot of radio interviews about it. If you’re doing a radio interview, typically you’ve got about five minutes and they’re going to say, well, what’s the main point of your book?
[00:07:26] Randy Patterson: And really the assertiveness workbook has 200 pages of tips. So what’s the main point. And I thought, I don’t really know what the main point of this is, even though I wrote the book on the subject or a book on the subject. But over time, I became to realize that actually there is a core concept and that is that when you’re being aggressive, you’re really trying to control the other person.
[00:07:50] Randy Patterson: You know, like in that example, I was just trying to control what you do with your microphone or whatever, you know. In assertiveness, it’s really about letting go of controlling other people. You’re not trying to control anybody else. All you’re controlling is your own. And that’s a really key concept. I have a classic example that I often give that may not relate very well to people in the programming community, but I think it illustrates the concept.
[00:08:17] Randy Patterson: And that’s a woman who is in an assertiveness group. Many years ago when the program was first being developed. And, she said, you know, I have this real big problem. I got this like kid he’s like 17 years old. He’s just learned to drive. The deal is he can borrow my car, but he’s supposed to bring it back with gas in it.
[00:08:37] Randy Patterson: And he never does. I don’t like what’s that, like, he never brings it back with gas. It’s all the time he drives around, he comes back. There’s no gas in the car and I’ve started yelling and nagging and trying to, how do I make this kid change? And, there’s a little trick at an assertiveness training group. And that is, if you’re the leader, if you’re the therapist, you get the other group members to do your dirty work for you. As a therapist, you say, oh, "and what does the group think of this?" And the, and the group actually came, came up with it exactly. They said, your son is not the problem.
[00:09:09] Randy Patterson: You are the problem. Why are you the problem? Because they’re your keys. And you’re the one handing them over. And their initial thought was stop loaning him the damn car, which wasn’t really gonna work very well because he needed to practice. But what they came up with is that she would say to him, you know, do what you like.
[00:09:29] Randy Patterson: You know, you can, you can fill it with gas. You can not fill it with gas. If you feel it with gas, you can borrow it again. If you don’t fill it with gas, you can also borrow it again. But there’ll be a two week gap totally up to you. You know, you decide. And so he, she loans him the keys, he brings it back and you can guess what happened.
[00:09:48] Randy Patterson: In fact, there was no gas in it. Why? Because she had spent 18 years training him that when, when she said something, it didn’t actually mean anything. Right. He didn’t have to have pay any attention to anything. She said, she taught him this. So no surprise. She just holds onto the keys for two weeks.
[00:10:05] Randy Patterson: He’s enraged. Because it totally changes the relationship. But then she hands him the keys. After two weeks, he brings it back with gas and continues to do so because he had learned that she was going to control her own behavior so long as she was trying to control him, didn’t work. And that’s really what assertiveness is about is, is about figuring out what is my role in this dance and how do I change my steps, not yours.
[00:10:34] Randy Patterson: That’s the key point. I think of all of us are.
[00:10:37] Stefanni Brasil: I love that. And before we go to some questions specifics to programming. I just wanted to say that I wrote down, I can’t control other’s behaviors. I can only control my behaviors and I read that quote everyday.
[00:10:51] Randy Patterson: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s really critical. And the people say, oh, damn, that means all these obnoxious people around me.
[00:10:59] Randy Patterson: I can’t do anything about them. Well, actually, by changing what we do, other people change in response to that, we sort of change the ecology of the environment and it does change. The way that work situations come up, and, and are handled, you know, much more effective way than me trying to manipulate what everybody else’s doing.
[00:11:20] Thiago Araujo: That kind of reminds me of programming, because sometimes you want people to do things your way. So there’s a lot of that in programming where you write the code in a certain way, a certain style. So that’s how it work. And then you want other people to follow you, but there’s not, it’s not necessarily the best way. And always just your opinion. And we see a lot of that in our industry where people get angry, you know, looking at other people’s codebecause they don’t follow the way you think is the best way.
[00:11:57] Thiago Araujo: And then there’s kind of this tie where sometimes people are aggressive and they say oh, your code sucks. You are a bad developer. And then there’s the other style where they’re kind of passive aggressive. They nitpick on your code, but they don’t say that is bad. They just say, oh, maybe you should change it this way.
[00:12:16] Thiago Araujo: It’s going to be better. But then they make her life harder, you know, because they don’t tell you right away, oh, you need to change this because of this and that. They don’t want to engage in the conflict. So they kind of avoid what would be your suggestion for that case where people kind of avoid the conflict.
[00:12:37] Thiago Araujo: They don’t want to say their opinion because they know that they will have to explain their point of view. They will have to put their opinions out there, but they’re not super confident in themselves sometimes even if they have experienced. So I see that a lot, even for experienced people. So what will be your suggestion?
[00:12:57] Randy Patterson: Yeah, I’ve, I’ve known a lot of people in, in programming and tech more broadly. And this is a really common thing that comes up. There are almost different cultures. You know, people might be using the same ineffective language, but there’s almost cultural variability and everyone is their own culture in, in programming.
[00:13:19] Randy Patterson: They have their own way of doing it their own way of, you know, one level just naming variables or, or what have you. And if you’re working on a big project where they’re going to get, there’s going to be contributions from many people in order for it to be understandable for somebody later on, it kind of all has to be written in the same culture.
[00:13:38] Randy Patterson: I think, inevitably, people get used to their own style and then think, ah, that is "the" style. And so it’s either I win or I lose and adopt somebody else’s style. One thing that I would advocate is that within an organization there be some kind of almost a meeting or a policy manual. Hopefully when I think of a manual, I think of hundreds of pages, I’m hoping like three, of, you know, this is kind of our style or our way of doing this.
[00:14:13] Randy Patterson: You know, we’re going to name our variables this way. We’re going to call out to this kind of external program or, or, or what have you. So there’s some kind of agreement about it and that should be done if it’s not, if it doesn’t really apply globally to the kinds of work that the company is doing, it should be done with the beginning of every project.
[00:14:33] Randy Patterson: Where people say, okay. Well, what’s, what are our conventions going to be? And it seems like that’s something that’s often lacking in programming circles, is that people don’t have that initial, you know, what’s our style going to be, you know, do we document first, do we document later, do we, you know, put it in, do we code, do we put it somewhere else?
[00:14:54] Randy Patterson: This is not decided early on, and then you wind up in these battles later on. I think part of it is a recognition that there are these different styles and that if people are disagreeing with you, it might be that they think that their way is the only strategy. But I think you can invite them to share with you, like, what is it overall?
[00:15:15] Randy Patterson: What do you think our style should be? And what is the rationale for this change that you’re that you’re talking about? I’m open to changes. Right. There is zero probability that I’m going to do a bunch of programming and it’s all going to run the first time. It’s just not going to happen. And the zero probability, even if it does run, that everybody’s going to agree that that’s exactly what we intended to produce.
[00:15:40] Randy Patterson: So we do need somehow to be able to communicate with each other, rather than just relying on, maybe I’ll just do it perfectly. And then, then we won’t have to worry about whether there’s corrections or communication afterwards. So what are our conventions upfront? And then later on, be able to, to state why you do things, the way that you’re doing them and what your rationale is.
[00:16:05] Randy Patterson: I think there’s a hidden belief for many people around assertiveness, which is that if you are comfortable with it, if you are in effect, the assertive type that it will just spontaneously occur. Like you would just open your mouth and perfect assertive phrases will come out. That’s actually not the case.
[00:16:25] Randy Patterson: Assertiveness will always, always, always till the end of your life, take more thought than passivity. I’ll just keep my mouth shut and hope . Or aggression. I’ll just yell at people and call them idiots. Assertiveness will always be more difficult. And for that reason, you need to get over the idea that if you need to think about it, you’re inadequate in some way.
[00:16:47] Randy Patterson: No, if you need to think about it, then you’re probably doing it. And so what I would say is like, what are the points being made and how can I think through what is it that I want to say? One of the things that I think comes up for a lot of people is a defensiveness, which has to do with people, getting feedback and thinking the feedback is not about what this line of code is doing.
[00:17:13] Randy Patterson: The feedback is about my worth as a human being and whether I should ever have been hired to be part of this team in the first place. And, and we want to be able to take that off the shelf a little bit and be able to bring it back to what is it, that’s the matter with this code? People will often out of frustration phrase things as what are you an idiot, or, you know, I think this could be this way and this other thing, that’s three characters later.
[00:17:41] Randy Patterson: This shouldn’t be that way. And four characters later, there’s this thing that I think there’s that sense that you’re just being torn down as a human being. You need to come back and focus on the actual task. Now to some extent that’s feedback for the person giving you the feedback. But I think when somebody is, is say, oh, this is all wrong.
[00:18:02] Randy Patterson: I think one of the best things you can do is take out paper, like bring out a piece of paper and pen and say, okay, let’s find out exactly what this is. And in effect, try not to deal with your own ego. As much as possible to get your own ego out of the way, even though you are being attacked in some, some of these circumstances and be able to say, what do we think is the matter with this.
[00:18:27] Randy Patterson: And what, what needs needs to be changed, at least in your view. And then let’s talk about with the team and find out let’s come up with some kind of agreement. I don’t know if that answers your question. It’s a bit long and wandering, but there we are.
[00:18:42] Thiago Araujo: No, it certainly does what you’re talking about.
[00:18:46] Thiago Araujo: I think that Iwould be interested in learning from you is because what happens is most of the time. People wait for someone to take the initiative, to do those things and inside there, your manager or the tech lead, but you can do it as well. Like you have the knowledge you have, the experience can just go and lead by example in a way. But then people are kind of afraid, you know, they don’t want to put their opinions out there.
[00:19:13] Thiago Araujo: They don’t want to be the person setting up the rules for others to follow. So is there a way to kind of not feel that anxiety, an exercise is something to think about?
[00:19:25] Randy Patterson: I mean, in effect in any job, especially any team job, you are in service to the team. And so one can phrase these things in the terms of service.
[00:19:38] Randy Patterson: Look what our team, like, let’s say you’re the junior person, right. Just showed up from our hired a month ago. And oh, we’re doing this new thing where we’re going to rearrange the payment scheme for this website or whatever. Right. I have no idea what people your audience might be talking about, but nevertheless, let’s imagine.
[00:19:58] Randy Patterson: But you’re, you know, you’re a month out. It would still be perfectly reasonable for you to say, look, I’m the new guy, I’m the new woman. And so I don’t know the culture, like, I don’t know what the standards are and our, how we do things. And so could we agree on. Share, what we think would be the good format for this.
[00:20:20] Randy Patterson: Where do we want the documentation: separate document in the code? Like what are we doing? Just so that I understand so that I can produce what this team is trying to do, right? So we can almost always, well, this is not always the case, but often at least we can frame our assertive communication as service because it is in service to a better relation, right.
[00:20:44] Randy Patterson: Rather than I’m going to go off into my little cubicle code for two months, come back and have produced something that doesn’t really fit with what everybody else is doing. No, I think the junior person is, it’s absolutely legitimate for them to request that the team do this as a whole. Inappropriate for them to say, okay, I started a month ago. You guys are all idiots. So I’m going to say what the, what the, the parameters should be.
[00:21:12] Stefanni Brasil: Thank you so much for bringing up early career developers. Because there is a lot of problems, of course not in all companies, but it’s really common for early career members of the team to feel like they are not respected.
[00:21:29] Stefanni Brasil: Like you mentioned in the beginning, experts will know better than you, but you still have, you’re still a human be and you deserve to be respected. And I can say that’s why I was mentioning as, I was reading the book. I just went back when I was first deciding to working with software, I had a hard time asking for help because they didn’t want to be that person, that the team had to stop and help.
[00:21:57] Stefanni Brasil: And also for a lot of people, there is this fear of, oh, I’m not going to ask because they are doing me a favor. They give me this job. I know I’m not good enough. And I wonder if you have anything to share for this person that is feeling like this this way, it’s probably even thinking of giving up the job.
[00:22:17] Stefanni Brasil: What would you say for someone that is going through this?
[00:22:21] Randy Patterson: One thing I, I would say to them is whether you’re the person for the job or not is actually none of your business. That’s the business of the person who actually hired you and they made the judgment that you were the person for the job. Now they might’ve made you know, misperceptions in there. But the one thing that I think a lot of new employees, particularly in first few jobs, they really don’t appreciate is just how much your supervisor does not want to fire you. And that’s not just because they’re a nice human being, even though generally speaking they are.
[00:22:59] Randy Patterson: And even if they don’t seem all that nice, it’s because they’re anxious. It’s not because they’re psychopaths necessarily, not to say that there aren’t some of those in the workplace as well. But they, but in addition to whether they’re a nice human being or have ordinary human emotions is the fact that hiring people is the most awful job in the world.
[00:23:18] Randy Patterson: Nobody likes to do it. And you know, even if it turns out, well, you don’t have quite the talents that I thought you did. I thought you would be really great at this. It turns out you’re maybe better at that or whatever. We’ll have to recheck things a little bit. Nobody wants to get rid of you because nobody wants to be doing job interviews.
[00:23:36] Randy Patterson: You know, you think it’s awful applying for jobs. Trust me, being on the other side of that table. That’s no treat either. Everybody feels inadequate on both sides of the table, so they don’t want to get rid of you. When I’m an employer, and I’ve been an employer for many, many years now. One thing I fear is the employee who doesn’t ask questions. Because I just not like, how would they know exactly how this job goes, given that they have never done it before? The odds of that are zero. I depend on their feedback and I depend on their questions. And if they’re not asking any questions, I say, okay, here you go. Here’s this really complex, anything we needed to do this.
[00:24:16] Randy Patterson: And we need to reorient all of that, any questions and they go, Nope, I’m thinking "oh, no". You know, you didn’t get all that, you know, you didn’t, I know you didn’t let’s, you know, figure out what the questions are. So people really need to accustom themselves to that idea, that asking questions and revealing your ignorance is an essential aspect of the job.
[00:24:42] Randy Patterson: It really is and giving off the impression that, you know, it know it all or completely understand the project when you don’t, that’s pretty transparent to people and, and it, it, it comes off worse than if you actually ask questions. Now, there can be aspects in meetings. For example, you’ve got a team meeting with 10 people around and you’re going, wait, what is this again?
[00:25:04] Randy Patterson: Like somebody explain to me this company that we’re working for, that’s going to be 10 people’s time, ticking down while one person explains it to you. It’s a good idea to, to see if you can m eet up with somebody after the meeting and say, listen, you know, there’s something about this customer that I don’t quite grasp.
[00:25:23] Randy Patterson: Could we meet for like 10 minutes after the meeting? Not everybody needs to hear this, but it’ll help me orient to whatever it is that we’re doing. So really clear about, asking questions. Don’t feel you have to know it all, nobody knows at all. And especially in first few jobs, it’s a danger signal.
[00:25:42] Randy Patterson: If you don’t ask questions or expose things that you don’t know, the dangerous sign to everybody around you. Yeah.
[00:25:48] Stefanni Brasil: I wish we could travel back in the time capsule. And I could say that to myself because I was so caught up on what I didn’t know. That it’s almost impossible for you to create space in your head to think, okay, I don’t know that, but I can figure it out.
[00:26:09] Stefanni Brasil: And if I can’t figure it out just by myself, I’m pretty sure there is someone in the world out there that can helped me. And I’m pretty sure this is kind of related to the imposter syndrome as well, which is also something really common in this industry. I’m also sure for women and for all the minorities in this industry, it’s also even higher.
[00:26:33] Stefanni Brasil: There were, the problem is really, really, it’s hard to just go through that just by yourself. Dr. Paterson, is there also something that you can say to someone that is, you know, just thinking, oh my God, I invested all of this money, a time into these career only to figure out that this is not for me, everyone seems to be doing fine, but I’m the one and I’m the only one who’s struggling.
[00:26:59] Randy Patterson: Well, the one thing to remember, I think is that you have access to the work that you’re doing, but also your internal state, all the self doubt, all of the self-questioning, an intimate awareness of whole realms of your profession, that you have no clue about the fact that you have never, in fact, programmed in that particular language that’s being used for that bit of the project.
[00:27:29] Randy Patterson: And so on. Right. And what you have with other people is access to their behavior. And their behavior is what they choose to reveal to others. And so when you compare yourself to others, you are always going to look less secure because you don’t see their insecurities because that’s not, it’s not posted on their forehead.
[00:27:53] Randy Patterson: So you will always have that opportunity to think. I know less than others and I am more insecure than other people. There’s often the odd employee. Who’s constantly saying, I don’t know anything. I don’t know what I’m doing and burst into tears at every meeting. And he’s like, okay, maybe I’m more secure than them, but generally speaking, you’re not going to perceive.
[00:28:13] Randy Patterson: And especially if you’re the new person in the team, of course you don’t know as much as the others. There really is a, a stance about, I think the professions, which is that no training program actually trains you to do your job. Within Psychology, I can tell you that somebody comes out and they graduate for a psychology program.
[00:28:35] Randy Patterson: This does not mean when we hire you onto the transplant unit at St. Paul’s, you immediately know what you’re doing. You’re going to have a period of time where you’re thinking, how the heck does anything that I’ve, I’ve learned have anything to do with this? Like where, like, I don’t no clue what the role of a psychologist is on the transplant team.
[00:28:57] Randy Patterson: There is one, but you, you really don’t know what you’re doing. So training programs are not about teaching you how to do your chop. They’re about bringing you to a point where you can upon hiring, be trained to do your job. Nobody expects you to be able to do your job. When you show in the door, walk in the door, it doesn’t happen.
[00:29:19] Randy Patterson: And so there’s a degree of normalizing that needs to take place. It’s like I have no clue what I’m doing and it can be quite helpful actually for new employees to go in and say, no idea what this is. I’m going to need to figure it out. With regard to the imposter phenomenon. I actually made a post on this sometime ago on the YouTube channel.
[00:29:43] Randy Patterson: People treat it as a bad thing. If you’re doing something complicated, chances are you are an imposter, right? You don’t know how to do. You’re going to have to figure it out. You know, you just don’t have what it takes to do all of it all at once. And if you’re a member of a team, chances, are you never, well, that’s why there’s a team.
[00:30:02] Randy Patterson: That’s why there are different people with different areas of expertise. And if there’s nobody with an area of expertise that you need, that’s when you get a consultant or get somebody else from the company, none of us have any clue how to do this. This is going to take calculus. None of us passed calculus.
[00:30:15] Randy Patterson: So, you know, that’s when you do that. So I think normalizing ignorance is important and normalizing the fact that you are going to feel inferior relative to others is it’s just, it’s just a natural part of, of what happens when you get an, a team. This is why you socialize with people and say, you know, like they were talking about this bit at the thing.
[00:30:38] Randy Patterson: I have never done that my entire life. That’s what you, you share that over lunch or possibly over beer. And then what they will often do is share it. Yeah. I have no idea what it was. I totally get that, but I don’t get this other bit.
[00:30:51] Thiago Araujo: It’s interesting that you’re saying that because for people that are working, you know, there are new employees, you can have that communication with colleagues over beers, over coffee, and they can help you if you show some vulnerability with them.
[00:31:12] Thiago Araujo: But what happens with my mentees,so I mentor some junior developers that don’t have a job yet. And it’s harder because even though you tell them. You’re not supposed to know everything. I’m not going to know. So just apply to jobs, just try it out, figure it out, you know, because even as a senior developer, you have to figure things out.
[00:31:33] Thiago Araujo: You don’t know everything, but for them not having that access to other people because they’re not working yet, they just feel so anxious and so bad about themselves. It’s hard because I’m not a psychologist, you know, it’s hard for me sometimes to help them, but I will say, okay, so do some meditation, you know, just try to learn, accept yourself as you are.
[00:31:59] Thiago Araujo: Right? Because I think this is the greatest trick. Maybe it’s just learn to accept yourself as you are. And then from that, you can change, it can improve, can do whatever you want. Right. But it’s still hard to convince people. And if you, do you have any thoughts on that topic?
[00:32:20] Randy Patterson: Yeah, I mean, around insecurity, one of the things that’s very helpful is, is realizing that it’s almost like the insecurity is a voice, a separate person that’s whispering in your ear.
[00:32:33] Randy Patterson: And one option is to try and shut it up just to say, Nope. Nope, Nope. I’m not thinking about it. Nope. Nope. I’m not thinking about it. Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope. Another option and that’s often a better option is sit down and listen. I’d say, okay. Well tell me about that. Like what do you, what do you mean?
[00:32:51] Randy Patterson: What do you mean? And I think. To do this quite literally. I really encourage clients to do this very, very frequently. Actually sit down with paper, do not try to do this in your head. It does not work. And right at the top of the page, I am a piece of crap because, or I am completely inadequate or I will always be a failure because, and then, then ask yourself, okay.
[00:33:21] Randy Patterson: So, so why like what are, what are all the good bits of evidence that I’m terrible too stupid to one talented will never like, what are all the bits of evidence there and actually write them down almost as though, you know, if you had this of noxious person yelling at you about how awful you were, if you try and shut them up there, it’s very difficult to do that.
[00:33:46] Randy Patterson: But if you actually sit them down in a chair and say, okay, tell me everything. Let’s hear it. Let’s hear it. I’m terrible. Okay. Okay. How, how, how, how, and really get it all out when you get it down onto paper. And I am determined to believe you, you know, programmers are probably very reluctant paper, by the way, is this product made from trees and it’s, it’s useful.
[00:34:12] Randy Patterson: Don’t use a computer, use paper, write it down, and then, you know, really try and get all of the bad stuff. Don’t argue with it line by line, but try and get as much of it as possible without arguing later, maybe three days later, come back and look at it and see, is there any wiggling us about it or does it feel really firm or is it a little shaky?
[00:34:37] Randy Patterson: It’s like I, because I don’t know how to program as well as insert famous programmers name here. You know. Okay. So does everybody have to be able to do that or is that what they’re hiring me to do? Because they think I’m that guy? No, actually, or I could never do that for, let’s say the gaming industry, because I’ve never programmed a game before, which was on my resume and they heard me anyway.
[00:35:13] Randy Patterson: So you begin realizing that many of the things that you’ve been using to tear down your self-esteem when you actually write them down and look at them, head on without just trying to divert your attention, head on you realize that doesn’t actually make sense. I remember meeting with a university professor at one point who really had the sense I am the stupidest person on earth.
[00:35:40] Randy Patterson: And when she actually came up with it, like, well, let’s write that down. Thank you. Let’s write that down. We wrote down, I am the stupidest person on earth. Then she was looking at that and thought and lapsed into silence for a moment. And every good therapist knows shut up when they do that. And eventually she came up with that.
[00:35:58] Randy Patterson: Doesn’t quite make sense. Does it? And oh, how so? Well, there’s no guarantee that if you have your PhD and you’re employed by a university that you’re a great genius. I’d say, yes, that’s true. If there’s no guarantee of that, pretty much a guarantee. You’re not the absolute stupidest person on earth.
[00:36:19] Randy Patterson: Yeah, that’s pretty much guaranteed. Yeah. You pretty much inconceivable. You are the stupidest person on earth. We don’t know where you are amongst the rest, but you’re not what you’re saying. I mean, you know, I knew that this was a perfectly intelligent person and could reassure all I wanted to no effect whatsoever.
[00:36:37] Randy Patterson: But, you realize that some of the overblown exaggerated over generalized statements that we make about ourselves are simply false. And when you recognize that falsity and can feel it in your bones. Yeah. There might be some bad stuff about me, but that’s, you know,that’s way exaggerated. When you realize that it takes away some of the state, you know, a lot of programmers, I will say I, a lot of programmers, you know, accountants are not so good at risk accounting.
[00:37:17] Randy Patterson: You know, if you go into accounting, good chance, you didn’t go into it because you’re a big risk taker. And if you went into programming, I don’t think we can draw any similar conclusions. But I would say that a vast number of programmers are really not that comfortable, public speaking. You know, it’s just not, not their thing.
[00:37:40] Randy Patterson: As matter of fact, what many people notice is if you, you know, what, regardless what your reg, your regular level of skill is, if you’ve been programming for three days, you can’t. Like you just lose the ability to speak. Lots of people notice this, like if they’re completely in programming mode, it’s like, yeah.
[00:38:00] Randy Patterson: Then I went out for coffee and I was like, silent. Couldn’t think of anything to say, but anyway, motor program is not so great. Uh, uh, uh, with public speaking, they’re very, self-conscious about that until they realize none of these other guys are either not the women, not the men, none of us are that, you know, we’re not that, you know, that’s, that’s not neither there’s that one person on the team, but the rest of us, we communicate a little bit better in the way that we’re used to communicating, which is in our programming languages.
[00:38:32] Randy Patterson: And so this is not necessarily a natural talent and it may take more thought. Again, I know other programmers that you’d think like, what are you? Party, party planner. No programmer, really. So a little bit of bigotry on my part, I suppose, being exposed there, but it seems to be a thing and people feel like, oh, I’m the only one.
[00:38:57] Randy Patterson: No, no people generally find it difficult. I don’t know. I think we voyage fairly far from that question, but anyway, yeah,
[00:39:08] Stefanni Brasil: I was just going to say that what you were talking about writing down your thoughts is really powerful. That was the first tool that I learned by doing the cognitive behavioral therapy sessions.
[00:39:23] Stefanni Brasil: And I’m still amazed at how simple it is yet how efficient it is. And thank you for bringing it up.
[00:39:31] Randy Patterson: It really is one of the trickiest things in, in therapy because you’re telling people about us and they think that’s so simple, that costs can’t possibly do very much, but it really is remarkable if you actually listened to your negative thoughts and write them down often the, the poor thinking or the distortions in the become immediately obvious.
[00:39:57] Randy Patterson: Not always, but often.
[00:39:59] Stefanni Brasil: Yeah. I just have one curious question. Before we move on to another topic, it’s something that you said in one of the chapters, you mentioned really briefly that as kids. We tend to feel inadequate in. Hopefully someone in our life said to us, Hey, that’s everyone feels this way.
[00:40:20] Stefanni Brasil: You’re not inadequate. And you change your perspective. But in my case, I didn’t have no one with that ability. So I had to learn that my, myself after therapy and my question is why is it that we have this tendency to believe that we are in the quit? And if you didn’t have someone like me, who said the opposite to you, what is the first step for you to start to stop believing that?
[00:40:53] Randy Patterson: Well, I think, I think one of the reasons that people feel so prone to feeling inadequate is because they are. You’re born. You can’t turn over, you can’t swim, you can’t program, you can’t talk, you don’t know language. You can’t do any sport. You can’t read, you can’t do anything, right? So we come from a place of inability and gradually build up skills.
[00:41:20] Randy Patterson: Often that doesn’t result in a rethinking of our talents as well. When we compare ourselves to others, we have seemingly a natural talent for looking at outliers. So we go to a party and we see the one person who’s absolutely the center of attention. Couldn’t come up with every story and like is making everybody laugh and so on.
[00:41:44] Randy Patterson: Who do we compare ourselves with them? You know, we just took up the guitar like two weeks ago and there’s somebody at the party who’s like, Springsteen is there at the party. And he is, you know, and we’re comparing, oh, I’m no, I’m nothing. I’m nothing. I’m nothing compared to Springsteen. So we compare ourselves to outliers and inevitably feel inadequate by comparison.
[00:42:10] Randy Patterson: So I think that’s part of it is it’s just that we come from a place of not knowing stuff. And then we don’t reevaluate very well. And many people, you know, I don’t think it’s rare. I think it’s quite common. Many people really don’t have the experience of anybody saying, "you’ve got this. You can totally do this".
[00:42:31] Randy Patterson: I think that’s actually quite rare. I think people have a sense that like 90% of people have somebody like that and only 10% including me. I think it’s actually the other way around. Like most people don’t have a cheerleader, never have to have and need and you know, and some people have had the exact opposite of cheerleaders, right?
[00:42:55] Randy Patterson: You’re terrible. You’re an idiot. You’re the stupid one of the family, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, you know, whatever people have that, that’s more common than the cheerleaders. But I think for that reason, they need to become their own cheerleader to a greater extent. Not in an unrealistic way, not saying, oh, I know everything, you know, all these other programmers, they’re idiots, like I’ll show them, you know, I’ll be the top programmer in the company by next year.
[00:43:20] Randy Patterson: Don’t be telling yourself lies or overly optimistic stuff. But recognizing, you know, I, I can probably figure this out. It’s it’s helpful. And be able to kind of almost re-parent yourself a little bit is, is, is helpful.
[00:43:39] Thiago Araujo: How does that work? You mentioned reparenting yourself. How does that work?
[00:43:46] Randy Patterson: Yeah, that’s a long topic.
[00:43:48] Randy Patterson: However, one of the things that I encourage many clients to do is to think, okay, well, when did you feel your most you know, You know, most insecure most. Oh my God. I don’t know what I’m doing. And I probably don’t have what it takes to do it anyway. And blah, blah, blah. Like when, when was that most damaged, most terrified and so on.
[00:44:12] Randy Patterson: And what age were you? Oh, 12. Let’s say, you know, people say all different anxious, interestingly, but let’s say they say age 12. Okay. Tell you what I’d like you to do. I want you to go home and I want you to find a photograph as close to 12 as you possibly can of yourself. Right. And I want you to take that, out of it’s book or envelope or off the, the photos album in your computer.
[00:44:40] Randy Patterson: I want you to print it out, really good printing, you know, take it to the, you know, the, the, the Photoshop or whatever, like really good. And I want you to put it in a. And I want you to put it where it’s visible. And I want you to start talking to this kid. I want you to tell this kid what this kid needed to hear when he was 12 years old.
[00:45:04] Randy Patterson: And people feel unbelievably stupid doing this. And yet once the w the there’s sort of this layer of stupidity, that you have to get through, and then you can begin doing it. And you can begin talking to this insecure aspect of yourself. And, and you might say, well, it’s a bit late. Now. That was many years ago.
[00:45:28] Randy Patterson: I don’t know, 12, year-olds still in there. 12, year-olds still in there still waiting to, to get reassured by somebody. You can do this now. Because it’s that twelve-year-old, that’s coming out in that meeting. Fine. It’s that? Twelve-year-old, that’s coming out as you’re going into the job interview, and you need to be able to talk.
[00:45:49] Randy Patterson: Or her and, and really cultivate that and get past the F the, sort of the, the seeming idiocy of doing this, and be able to, get into it. People you can’t really connect with it the first little bit that you do it, but then eventually most people can, and really imagine talking sanely to themselves and it’s, and again, it’s not unrealistic positivity.
[00:46:18] Randy Patterson: That’s never the goal in cognitive therapy. It’s never, you’re totally got you and do anything you want, right? No, no, no. As never. It it’s always you’re right. You don’t know how to do this, this project. You do not have a handle on this project, but you didn’t have a handle on the last five projects either.
[00:46:37] Randy Patterson: And you figured it out. You can probably figure this one out too, you know, realistic balance. Thinking and being able to talk to that younger or insecure version of yourself, very,
[00:46:52] Stefanni Brasil: I just loved how we turned this into a group therapy, but I’m sure someone who’s listening to this will relate for sure. I certainly did a lot and I don’t mind sharing it all of this because it took me quite a while to just recognize that I needed to go to therapy and that I was not a weak person for doing that.
[00:47:17] Stefanni Brasil: So if I can help someone to simply understand that they might need to ask for help, then absolutely happy to talk about my insecurities.
[00:47:28] Randy Patterson: It’s so helpful. And, and, and, you know, in anxiety, what w what it really helps us is to approach the very thing that makes us anxious. So if there’s a real fear that people are gonna discover that you don’t know anything about this bit of the project that you’re working on, if you reveal that you don’t know it, the fears mostly gone, because what are, they’re going to realize?
[00:47:52] Randy Patterson: Something that you just told them, they already know it, right? There’s nothing, there’s nothing in the future. That’s going to bite you now. Oh, you’re just you’re you already revealed it. It’s like if you’re giving a talk and you’re anxious, and you’re terrified that people will figure out that you’re anxious, the very best thing to do is to get up there and say, wow, I’m really anxious today.
[00:48:11] Randy Patterson: Anyway. So I’m talking about, and then, and then get into, give it away right off the. If you try to hide your inadequacy or, or insecurity, you know, hoping that nobody can perceive it, you’re going to magnify the fear. So it’s helpful to be able to share that. And, and indeed on a, on a programming team, for example, to find somebody who seems reasonably nice and be able to say, you know what, I haven’t a clue about this, or I get this part, but this part, I got it and, and share that can be very helpful.
[00:48:50] Thiago Araujo: We were watching one of your videos about anxiety. I don’t know which one was it, but you were talking about avoidance and anxiety, and you said that the worst thing you can do is to avoid
[00:49:05] Randy Patterson: yeah. It’s the nature of every anxiety disorder or anxiety near disorder. Like everybody has anxiety. Is that it has two components, the emotional component, which is the anxiety, but the behavioral component, which is the avoidance of what sparks the anxiety.
[00:49:24] Randy Patterson: So, you know, dog bikes, bites you, and you get afraid of dogs. The more energy you spend running away from dogs, the more fearful you’re going to get, it’s like, there’s sort of almost a theme in sort of science fiction in movies or something where the, the more you fire lasers at the enemy, the stronger it gets.
[00:49:49] Randy Patterson: It seems to me that since it has a recurrent theme in these things, the more you fire at it, the more you run away from what you fear, the stronger, the fear gets over taught in the moment it goes away because you’re not around any dogs anymore, but overall it gets worse. So if you’re targeting the anxiety, tends not to.
[00:50:10] Randy Patterson: So anxiety management is often not the best strategy. It’s avoidance management, that’s the best strategy. So moving towards the things that stress you out, and I think overcoming the idea that you should be comfortable, you know, if you’re comfortable, you’re in your zone of comfort. And, and what that means is you’re not being challenged.
[00:50:34] Randy Patterson: But I think a lot of people interpret that sense of insecurity, that kind of fluttery feeling in your stomach. That sense of, I don’t know how this is going to work. Like, like how, like I don’t get it. They interpret that feeling as meaning there’s something wrong and you need to get away from this as opposed to something that is much more likely to be true, which is, this is where you’re going to learn.
[00:51:01] Randy Patterson: This is, this is the zone of mild discomfort and it is exactly the zone you want to begin. If you want your comfort zone to expand, you have to challenge yourself.
[00:51:12] Stefanni Brasil: I love that. I remember reading about this posture of doing what you’re scared by reading a book called the confidence code, and it’s about confident women in how they approach challenges in fear.
[00:51:31] Stefanni Brasil: And the main takeaway from the book was how you were scared. So do it in your way. That’s how you become confident. And I have been doing, you know, some work on this pretty small and every time that I feel that butterfly. Flying my stomach. I’m always, oh, I think this is a sign that I should do it.
[00:51:53] Stefanni Brasil: Cause that’s probably something really good at the other side. It really changes your perspective.
[00:52:01] Randy Patterson: Yeah. Let’s face it. It, doesn’t always a hundred percent of the time pay off, but it’s going to pay off much more than if you stay in your little zone of comfort. The metaphor that I always use for the zone of comfort is that garbage room in star wars.
[00:52:16] Randy Patterson: Because you’re, you’re in that and it feels like, okay, we’re okay. And then the walls start moving inward because the more time you spend in your zone, a comfort, the smaller it gets, it just keeps on shrinking. And the only way to get it to get bigger again, is to, is to voyage jet side. It like you’d go to something that makes you feel anxious and you go there three times can make you anxious the, the time, not nearly as much.
[00:52:42] Randy Patterson: So that’s how. You know, expand that zone confidence. A lot of people have this idea that you have to retreat to your comfort zone, your, your happy place, and really sort of build up your strength there. And that’s what will make you comfortable doing these things that you’ve never done before. It’s completely wrong.
[00:53:00] Randy Patterson: What will make you comfortable doing those things you’ve never done before is doing them including being assertive with your coworkers or revealing, you know, what you want to know, or by, you know, asking for the criticisms of your code and, and asking, you know, can you tell me more about, about what exactly like, if this was exactly right, what would it look like?
[00:53:26] Randy Patterson: What are the differences? And let’s see if we can get down to that and then you can decide whether you’re going to believe them or not. You don’t have to necessarily swallow it all, but at least you’ll know
[00:53:36] Stefanni Brasil: I love the example of, okay, can you show me. How do you see this being better? And because most of the times we simply can’t guess like we are bad guesses.
[00:53:50] Stefanni Brasil: And if you want to know what the person is actually asking, it’s always good to ask because we are bad guessers.
[00:53:58] Randy Patterson: It’s astonishing how many companies rely on management by telepathy, that somehow you’re supposed to magically know what it is that this other person wants without them actually saying.
[00:54:12] Randy Patterson: So, and the reality is we’re all crappy at that. And we need to be able to say, tell me, tell me what you want. And at least I’ll have some ideas. And then I might realize that’s not going to work. Okay. That might be what you want, but that’s not going to work or whatever. But at least you’ll, you’ll have some idea of, of what you’re going for that attempt to guess is almost always.
[00:54:39] Thiago Araujo: Yeah, this reminds me of a situation that causes a lot of pain and anxiety for developers, which is the project that is late and everything is broken. See a bunch of problems everywhere. And then the whole team knows it. Everybody knows it. They don’t see it. Maybe after work they talk about, so this project is, is a mess.
[00:55:01] Thiago Araujo: It’s not going to work, but nobody has the courage to confront management about this, or even to talk about it, to point out the problems. And once what happens is you, the deadlines slip by in half to overwork. Keep working and then you have to work late and you work on the weekends. So a lot of burnout comes from that and all that anxiety, that stress, but nobody is willing.
[00:55:33] Thiago Araujo: Well, nobody is, has the courage to say, Hey, this is not going in the right direction. How can we change? How can we change the deadline? How can we move things around and make it better? Because nobody wants to be that negative person in a way. And I see that happening so often it happens everywhere where everybody knows that the project is going to fail, but nobody says a thing about it.
[00:56:03] Thiago Araujo: And then at the end, it fails because it’s kind of a collective opinion or a belief about the project and it just happens. Everything doesn’t work. So what can you do about that? If you know that it’s gonna fail. What can you do?
[00:56:23] Randy Patterson: Well, I think part of the problem is that a lot of organizations just don’t have a way of dealing with that.
[00:56:29] Randy Patterson: But I think a part of it too, is that people are afraid of a kind of shoot the messenger, kind of thing. Like if you’re the one person on the team who goes up and says, listen, there are some serious problems with this and we’re not going to make February 13th. It’s just not going to happen. Then that person is going to be labeled the, you know, the problem. A better approach is to speak about it amongst the team as a whole and try and figure out like, what is realistic?
[00:57:02] Randy Patterson: What do we actually think about this? What are the points we need management to understand? And then invite management to attend. Where one person may be speaks at it, but everybody else knots a lot, you know, so it’s not just the one complainer or whinner. Who’s who’s doing this, or at least it’s not interpreted that way.
[00:57:24] Randy Patterson: But management understands that this is almost a universally held opinion, but it’s a bit tricky because there might be one person who thinks no, we can totally do it. It’ll work, whatever, you know, you may need to, you know, get that person on an off day or something like that. You know, when they’re not around, send them, send them out for pizza or something.
[00:57:46] Randy Patterson: So I think, I think that part of it is a unified, you know, like get the team together so that everybody talks about it and then presented it sort of as a unified front, but also presented as what it truly is. Management does not want to be shipping something that they’re going to be. You know, have mud on their faces for, for like the next year, right?
[00:58:09] Randy Patterson: Oh, you remember when they came out with that version, that totally didn’t work. You know, that company’s a bit, you know, iffy on its product. No, no manager wants that. And they might not want it to be shipped late either. But given the choice between those two they’ll pick shipped late over shipped garbage, generally, that’s not true in every organization.
[00:58:33] Randy Patterson: I don’t think, I think there are a lot of organizations it’s like, no, we’re like it’s held together with, you know, scotch tape, but we’ll just hope for the best. I think there are organizations like that, but I think to, to great extent, if the team can get together and say, you know what, we want this company to see.
[00:58:53] Randy Patterson: We’re not doing this because we want weekends. We want this because we want to be working next year and not on stress leave. And because we actually want this project to work because this reflects on us and our stock options, if any, so being able to sort of frame the re the feedback as, as it applies to the priorities of the person you are talking to can be great.
[00:59:21] Randy Patterson: And this is really interesting talking in a way that your manager understand and it’s related to his or her priorities. But I think sometimes, like you mentioned, developers are kind of bad at speaking public speaking. Sometimes they can’t really communicate the danger or the problem, you know, cause I’ve seen that happening.
[00:59:47] Randy Patterson: And I, I asked it’s, it’s tricky, you know, you have to learn how to communicate everybody, your manager and your team and make them understand your point of view.
[00:59:59] Randy Patterson: Right. It’s, it’s very tricky. One of the, you know, and again, I don’t want to make too much of that, that overgeneralization about, about programmers.
[01:00:09] Randy Patterson: It’s sort of a slight trend, I would say rather than a sentence for everybody. But one thing that they’re better at is, is writing in with persuasion, right? If you’re not precise in code, no, nothing works, so being able to say, here are the seven points where we’re having. And actually like, figure out, write them down and have one person maybe draft the message, have somebody else look at it and say, I don’t get that.
[01:00:37] Randy Patterson: Like, what do you mean? Or are you missed three? Okay. And write those down and then possibly submitted in, in paper or email that you can do an email, that can sometimes go over. Well, here are our concerns. 1, 2, 3, 4. We want to make sure that when we ship our product is going to, it’s going to work.
[01:01:01] Randy Patterson: It’s going to do what we said it was going to do. And these are our concerns at the moment and what it will take to address them. And nobody’s going to be not happy. You know, everybody’s happier when things come in on time and under budget or ahead of time and under budget, but they’re not going to be as unhappy as they will be.
[01:01:22] Randy Patterson: If the company goes. I think this was actually, you know, like the survival rate of new tech companies is so low. I think this is actually one of the reasons it’s bad communication. You know, the products are sold based on hopes rather than actuality.
[01:01:39] Stefanni Brasil: Yeah. I was given all of this conversation. I was thinking, let’s say that I tried communicating better.
[01:01:52] Stefanni Brasil: I tried putting a team effort. Still. Nothing has changed. When does one, I don’t want you to use, give up, but when does one draw the line? Like, okay, you know, this is actually what I can do, but this is not a place for me because usually what happens is. You don’t communicate. You ha you have a lot of time.
[01:02:22] Stefanni Brasil: You, or you just give credit to say as when it’s not corrective. So people don’t change. That is the easiest path to, oh, I’m simply going to find another job. Like, I don’t care about this. This team doesn’t respect me. We’re not aligning, but I’m thinking of the other scenario where the person did try their best at communicating clearly in stating their, their requests.
[01:02:47] Stefanni Brasil: When does this person should make the decision I’m going to find somewhere else?
[01:02:55] Randy Patterson: I think prior to that, there is the option of, of looking at it and saying, look, I am a cog in a very big machine and I’ll have a job. And my job is not to oversee this project. Nobody put me in that position. My job is to do this.
[01:03:10] Randy Patterson: Now I can inform them. This is not going to work with that. I did my. I, I have said what I needed to say. They don’t have to do anything about it, but I have the email, I printed it out. So it’s in my file. Like, look, I told you if you need to need it, but recognize that you cannot control everything. But I think people start out with programming, really, you’re doing your own projects, you know, from start to finish.
[01:03:45] Randy Patterson: And then you get involved in these huge things. And you’re just doing a little bit of it. And so the natural temp tendency is to go from your little bit to, you know, total management of the project and then feel frustrated. And to some extent, I think it is appropriate for you to be able to say, I have done my part.
[01:04:04] Randy Patterson: I have done what I was asked to do, and I recognized some problems and I informed people of those problems. I cannot make them make the right. I can tell them what the problem is. I cannot make them solve it, or I cannot make them pay attention, you know, to be able to release that. To some extent, I think is important in every major organization.
[01:04:26] Randy Patterson: Certainly from working in hospitals, I, I can tell you that, you know, things happen in hospitals and you think this, you know, this needs to change this. And I don’t mean necessarily medical decision-making, although sometimes there’s issues there, but I’m thinking, you know, structurally, I, you know, I don’t think this employee evaluation system is necessarily such a great idea.
[01:04:50] Randy Patterson: But you know, what am I, the head of HR? No fine point made. We’ll do it. Whatever. At some point, though, I think it’s important to recognize that you are not in, the business of making buggies for horses. You know, you’re in programming. And I think that what you will discover is that there aren’t that many unemployed programmers out there who cannot find anything.
[01:05:24] Randy Patterson: And I think what this does is it creates a selection environment for companies with, it was good policies, you know, companies that actually respect, their, their staff, that have good diversity inclusion policies. And I think increasingly people recognize that this is almost. A seller’s market for skills, people are really looking.
[01:05:47] Randy Patterson: And it’s perfectly reasonable that if you have a company with crappy management, who just yell at the programming team or treat them like idiots, great, you know, try to find programmers if you want, but I’m going to a company that actually respects this because we’re no longer at that point where we’re all, you know, starving.
[01:06:09] Randy Patterson: We might become, go into that at some point in the future. There’s absolutely no sign of it. But right now, no, you know, I think people need to, at some level grasp that this is a Darwinian environment and you’re not competing for customers. You’re competing for staff..
[01:06:27] Stefanni Brasil: I love that. And I just wanted to share that I have been listening to Dr. Goleman’s, the author of emotional intelligence, the book, and they talk a lot about how organizations can build more emotional intelligence teams. And it’s a really nice podcast. If anyone is interested in just changing how you treat everyone. And they certainly talk a lot about this. Like people need to find a purpose and to find a value in what they do every day.
[01:07:00] Stefanni Brasil: Otherwise it’s going to be hard for them to stay at their jobs then. Yeah. Just thought of sharing that.
[01:07:07] Randy Patterson: Yes. Emotional intelligence at work is a pro a book out there still. I believe that addresses those concepts within workplace settings.
[01:07:18] Stefanni Brasil: Dr. Paterson, given our conversation today, I wanted to ask if there is something that we should have asked, but we didn’t
[01:07:29] Randy Patterson: not particularly, I don’t think, I mean, assertiveness is a, is an enormous topic. I’m waiting for the second edition of my book to come out, so that I can do an online course on it. I’ll sort of release that at around the same time, but there are some, videos on assertiveness already at my YouTube channel, which is called how to be miserable.
[01:07:49] Randy Patterson: Although it’s about to be rebranded actually a psychology salon because some people find that how to be miserable title. Off pudding at any weight. If people just look for my name, Randy Paterson, with one T, they will probably be able to track, track down the channel. And then there’s a list of assertiveness stuff.
[01:08:08] Randy Patterson: The other thing is that if people want to practice sort of public presentation skills, one of the things that psychologists routinely refer to is Toastmasters. And there are Toastmasters groups for many, many different professions. They’re allied, not just by community, but my but my profession.
[01:08:27] Randy Patterson: And I bet I don’t know if this is true, but I bet there’s one for people in tech and it, and that can be a great way of learning this stuff and, and, you know, practicing one’s skills.
[01:08:38] Thiago Araujo: Yes, we both are members of the Toastmasters group here in Vancouver. There are, I guess, three groups clubs here in Vancouver. So yeah, it’s, it’s definitely a great suggestion.
[01:08:50] Thiago Araujo: If you want to learn public skills, Toastmastersis the place to be.
[01:08:55] Randy Patterson: And just making a point of, you know, speaking up in meetings and volunteering to do the, you know, status update report, you know, or whatever, whatever it might be, because I think keeping your mouth shut until you become a better communicator is not the best strategy practice works.
[01:09:16] Stefanni Brasil: Yeah. I love that. That was a great way to summarize our conversation and Dr. Paterson, I’m really happy to have you here today. Thank you so much for the invitation for sharing your amazing insights and tips. And I’m really grateful for having met you and talking to you today.
[01:09:40] Randy Patterson: Great. Well, you’re welcome. Thank you. It’s been fun.
[01:09:43] Thiago Araujo: Thank you so much, Dr. Paterson. So I guess if people want to practice assertiveness skills, they should grab your book or they should go to your YouTube channel and they can learn more about this.
[01:09:56] Randy Patterson: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. The YouTube has a number of videos based in part on the book and, and the book is available through all booksellers and online sources, et cetera,
[01:10:08] Stefanni Brasil: By the way, I did a s peech at the hour Toastmasters club. And I talked about assertivenessand I recommended the book and everyone was sending me like the feedback form. Oh, Stefanni, thank you so much for the book. It was so funny that we’ll be talking about those masters here.
[01:10:28] Randy Patterson: If people want to see other reviews, there’s lots of reviews on the, on this thing and, on Amazon, but also on Goodreads, which is a site where readers review books, if you’re not entirely sure, which of the many sort of newness books you want to read, and that’s a good place to sort of comparison shop before you, before you buy.
[01:10:47] Stefanni Brasil: I can’t recommend enough, like I said, in the beginning, he changed my life and I’m sure it will change someone’s life was listening to the podcast.
[01:10:58] Randy Patterson: Great. Well, thank you for having me.
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