Life has been unusually intense this week.
I had an important meeting at work yesterday. I even have a draft post about “the situation” which got resolved in that meeting, but I decided not to publish it, and now it is gone (more about that later).
See. I had a quite big and prolonged (technical) discussion with another engineering team from a “sister” company (that is, strictly speaking, a different company but part of the same group). This company provides the firmware for the platforms we use. My team builds a middleware on top of such firmware, so each time we find some bugs on the FW, we open a ticket on their system.
But here is the thing. I had this ticket open for months, and the engineer who was taking care of that had been bullshitting me since the beginning. At first, I thought he didn't understand the problem, but I slowly realized that he was just bullshitting and not addressing the actual problem.
And I see myself as a tolerant guy.
When a manager does bullshit, I try to understand. Sometimes they don't really have the technical knowledge a situation demands (but they can't say that), or their work is actually bullshitting better than other managers (isn't their fault either, that's the company's culture); granted, some actually enjoy the bluff and the bullshit. But even that does not concern me because I don't have a managerial position and I don't have to deal with that on a daily basis. So, when I do have to deal with that, I have a patience reservoir.
But when that happens with another engineer, that really piss me off.
Because, look. Engineers solve problems. Period. That's our job. That's all we do. If you're an engineer, you must enjoy the frustration of solving difficult problems, otherwise you're a wannabe.
A technical discussion usually revolves around where is the problem, how to solve it, the level of quality required, etc. When the counterpart is being defensive and refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem—when it is abruptly clear there is—that what I call bullshitting.
And this guy had been bullshitting me for quite some time.
So I wrote a long and unfiltered post explaining the bullshittery in detail. The post wasn't published, and now it is gone.
Because I thought it was unfair.
Time and again, I've found that when you get stuck on issues like this, it is better to talk in person, or in a virtual meeting—miscommunication is not uncommon because communication through a ticketing system is very limited. Of course, face-to-face meetings are not always possible, but in this case, it was.
So, the meeting happened.
And although technical issues didn't get resolved in that meeting, we got unstucked. Expectations were at least clarified, and we have now a clearer path forward.
No more bullshitting, life is great.
Because each time we are (I am) stuck in a situation with another human being, the best tactic is to remember we're dealing with another human being—humans are not machines replying tickets on a ticketing system. And seeing someone's face and hearing someone's voice bring humanness back.
Sometimes that's not possible, of course. So, the best next thing to do is, again, remember that you're dealing with a human being, and offer the willingness to figure things out together.
P.S. If the conflict is specifically among engineers, the best thing is to do is go out for beers with all the parties in conflict. Things get magically resolved among beers.
EDIT: I was too optimistic, we're still stuck with this issue.