Published on October 7th, 2017


Leave me alone, I just want to write code!

Do you think that programmers don't have to interact with people? This article will give you an insight.

6 minutes read

The title of this post might be "clickbait" but there are some software developers who believe that they are supposed to just write code and not interact with people.

There are a lot of books that deal with sort of topic but in today's article, I will be borrowing heavily from my career experience and a favorite book of mine named Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual to talk about how important it is for a software developer to interact with people.

I'm a software developer, why should I interact with people?

Earlier, I used to be under the impression that software developers are supposed to be glued in to their screens like a Hollywood hacker and just write code. But hey, I'm sure that I'm not the only one who had been thinking in that direction.

In fact, a portion of our time is being spent on interacting with people because not only are we writing code-logic for the computer to understand but it is mainly written for humans to aid in solving their daily problems. If that's not the scenario that means we'd all be talking to computers in binary form or machine language.

As time passed by, I learnt that in order to become a better software developer, you really should know how to deal with people (but I still like being glued to my two HD monitors!).

My current workspace

Think about it, where do the project requirements come from? Is it from computers? No, it's from people. Can your code send you an email to fix the new bug? No, people can.

A few examples:

If you still have the same mindset, you'd better rethink on that again because just like any other profession, you will have to interact with people.

How do I deal with people?

Like I had mentioned, at the very beginning of this article, there are a lot of books based on this topic but I'll try to keep it short and talk about a few points that might give you an idea on how to deal with people:

Everybody needs to feel essential

Let's face it, everyone loves to take the spotlight and would like to make everyone listen to them but there's nothing wrong about it as it's one of humanity's most desperate and deepest desires that help motivate us to achieve some of our greatest goals in our career, life and society.

Likewise, you're not the only one who has got amazing ideas, every individual does. It's very easy for you to discard one's idea, so that you can present yours instead but when you make this error, it might backfire on you i.e. you'll find others not listening to your ideas because you didn't value theirs in the first place.

So, always make it a point, if you want people to accept your ideas and think it's valuable, you'll also have to do the same thing, in return, for everyone else.

Try not to criticize

Back in my university days, when I was working on my graduation project, I used to face a lot of criticism from a fellow Computer Science Professor, who thought negativity is an effective way to motivate an individual and responded to all faults with harsh criticism but I feel that's a wrong method to motivate an individual.

If you want to inspire or motivate people to do their best, you should encourage them with positivity than harsh negativity, this could help boost their self esteem and performance as a software developer.

On the contrary, a little bit of critical feedback to help improve one's problem solving skills is totally fine.

Consider what the other person needs

During my career, I learnt that I should think about what's important to the other individual and what they want than what's important to me and what I want.

Whenever you enter in a conversation with your team member or boss, make sure you see things from their perspective. Try to understand their requirements and then when it's your turn, phrase the dialog in ways that your implementation matches their requirement.

Having shifted your mindset to this direction, you'll be making the person feel more essential and be more open to their ideas. In return, you can use leverage it in ways where people would deal with you in a favorable manner and value your ideas and skillset.

Stay away from arguments

One of the most common things that most software developers do is that they falsely believe that pure solid reasoning is enough to make another person accept your style of thinking because they assume that the latter might think about things from a logical perspective. Believe me, even I did this when talking to a lot of people.

But then, we all have this sort of nature in which we tend to pride ourselves on our own intellectual prowess but a slight difference in opinion, it hits us right in our ego and opens up a potential door for arguments.

For this reason, at all costs, it's best to avoid arguments of any sorts because talking in terms of logic and pure reasoning would do little to convince a screaming toddler. Whenever you reach a point of disagreement on how things should be done, it is best to determine whether or not that particular direction is the right way to reach the top of the hill and especially, if it involves another individual, weigh the pros and cons of a decision.

I'd like to share an interesting quote:

"I have to come to the conclusion that there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument — and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes." - Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936)

Probably, it wouldn't hurt much if you try to look for an opportunity to give up and admit that you're wrong on a small matter but, perhaps, it could be a big deal to the other person, which will help you build a good image and respect with them and can be leveraged in the future.

In conclusion

Being a good software developer isn't about being really skilled at coding (although, it's an imperative skillset!) but it's also about having good soft skills. If you ever thought that you have never worked on your soft skills, then this is time right for you to begin as you'll find your career much more enjoyable and accumulate a lot of skills and benefits in the future that will help you down the lane.

Hope you liked reading this article!

Au Revoir!