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Fabian Welz
Fabian Welz

Posted on

Don't smash cake in people's faces.

I dread questions from that one coworker.

He moans and complains about a problem. I tell him what's wrong. He does not listen. Three hours he tells me proudly, that he found out what's wrong.

Just the thing I told him three hours ago.

I got so fed up with him, that when he starts to tell me about a problem, I just look at my phone and walk away.

But today I realized, you can not teleport people to their destination, you need to lead them there.

I was feeding him my cake like this:
cakes smashing in face

But people generally want to eat their cake like this:
girl eats cake on plate

So the next time someone asks me to help with their problem I will try to:

  1. Ask them questions so they will form a hypothesis.
  2. Guide them to test the formed hypothesis.

This will take more time, but I hope will have a much better impact.

Example:

The colleague was wondering, why git indicated he had commits to push on master, even though he can not push on master because of a hook in git and works with pull requests.
My quick answer: You must have committed on master on accident, the hook only prevents you from pushing, not from committing. That went over his head, he mumbled and googled something else and stopped listening.

I was pissed.

Later he told me, I was completely correct in my assessment.

I was pissed again.

What I should have done

  1. Ask him, what assuming there is no bug in git, could be the cause that git indicates there are commits to push.
    -> There are commits to push, duh.

  2. Ask him, how he could test this hypothesis.
    -> We both could learn something new about git. Namely, how to compare the commits on local versus remote.

What I hope the results would be: We both would have learned something. The problem would have been identified in a much shorter time frame. I would not have popped a vein in my eye twice that day.

Am I full of crap, or am I on to something?

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