One wouldn’t normally relate Valentine’s Day to the office life of developers, designers, QA people and other guys involved in software development process. Such qualities as love, compassion, care and empathy do not obviously stand out as prevailing in our work. It’s mostly rough and tough. The word SCRUM is actually derived from rugby, a guys-only sport where the winner is the one who stands tough and pushes hard. As people work to create software, they quite often tend to be unyielding, protective of their opinions; they’re used to pushing, and sarcasm often comes out as closest to ever having any empathic perspective on your colleagues.
Have you ever been in such a situation, as a designer or as a writer or as a developer that you’re given a task, you work on it all alone, you come out with more and more drafts, and everyone seems to be criticizing your work? It takes stamina and a good deal of emotional stability to be able to withstand sometimes pushy remarks. No, I don’t mean to say that colleagues intentionally want to make you feel resented. All they want is to get work done, and their comments have the sole purpose of helping you complete whatever you’re doing as best as you could. They’re beta-consumers, the first to take a look at what you’ve created, before you shoot your design or a piece of text to the outer world.
Here’s the point. Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, we’re a company with trust established as one of the signature values. I’m not showing off, just citing the fact. So, a possibility that someone is saying something to hurt another person, is totally left out. However, even in this healthy environment, and with all the love for the work that people have, the universal laws of biology have a life of their own. The work is demanding, creative, and even as rewarding as it seems – your brain and your neurons just get tired. It’s purely physical. People are made of flesh and bone, they’re not made of hardware. With this tiring, people become hypersensitive to the remarks about their work, and may start taking them personally. One can’t get away with it. So, I’d like to highlight the need of awareness about this quality of human psyche.
If a colleague is fatigued, stressed out about some work, or if some personal factors add up to the stress, what if we try to feel the challenge that our fellow human is undergoing, and instead of being purely work-focused, give a little bit of personal attention and some help to each other? It’s not that hard really. Sometimes, if someone is stuck with a design draft or something of that kind, instead of giving some remarks on what this person does, wouldn’t it be wise and nice to switch the focus from judging to helping? At the end of the day, it’s not only about helping your colleague. It does contribute to the task at hand. You can save your colleague by dropping in new fresh ideas, or see if there’s any other way to help him or her. If you don’t know how to brighten up the life of someone who spends their days near you in the office space, go ahead and find out. Wipe the dust off of your right brain hemisphere or the heart chakra or whatever other scanners and sensors you could put to test for the other folks . This would also provide a side balancing effect for your own brain, giving it some rest from analytical tasks for a change. Maintaining the culture of compassion in a geeky environment might look like a weird idea, but what your company is worth if it’s not about people? People are the greatest asset, but somehow they’re not usually treated as such. So, is there any other better day than February 14, 2013, to emphasize the need for human relating, as well as the need to be more loving, compassionate and non-judgemental about others?
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!