As a consultant you get to work in lots of different places and environments, and with lots of different colleagues.
Most of the persons you meet and have to work with are pretty normal.
But once in a while you get to meet one that is not. 🙂
So, with some client I had the doubtful privilege to meet a guy that everybody warned me about beforehand.
And indeed, after working for some days on this project, I had a feeling there was indeed a problem with this guy. While he was working, he was constantly criticizing things he saw and laughing scornfully/sarcastically: “Hah! Who wrote this peace of shit?“, “What kind of crappy code is this?“, “Oh boy. When will Microsoft ever learn to write a decent OS?“, … the list is endless.
His sense of humor was also based on criticizing. His idea of a joke is: <something that went wrong or (even better) a mistake somebody made> + <one sarcastic laugh>.
He was supposed to help us on the development of this project and started to review the first screens and framework code we already had. Unfortunately he didn’t discuss things with the architect of the project directly, but always waited for a moment the architect guy was gone, and used me as his audience to start the next tirade against all design decisions we made that far.
After that, he started explaining his projects, the way he did things, why this was so much better than what we did.
And finally he almost cried out: “I have all this knowledge and experience in development. I have nothing to learn any more. But why, o why, doesn’t anybody ever listen to me?!”
At this moment I wanted to reply, because I think I know why that is: He is a perfect mix of grouchy smurf and brainy smurf.
1) Just like brainy smurf, he’s a Mr. Know-it-all. Constantly correcting and criticizing his co-workers. Always telling you he knows how it should be done, and that the way you are doing it, is definitely wrong.
And you probably know what happens to brainy smurf most of the time: he gets thrown out of the smurf’s village.
2) But most importantly, just like grouchy smurf he’s always so negative, without any sense for nuance. When you ask him: “What do you think of …?“, the answer usually is: “It’s crap!“.
As feedback this is worthless. Sometimes you know things aren’t as great as it could be, but you know it isn’t complete crap. So you’re looking for some more specific information like: “I think the menus are too complicated“, “that process takes ages and freezes up the application“, .. Some concrete remarks, so you know what to focus on to improve your product.
So after a while you don’t even bother to ask him for feedback or advice.
His feedback is crap anyway.
So to summarize, dear colleague, this is why nobody ever listens to you or asks your advice:
There is no need to ask you anything. We know in advance that the way we are doing it is wrong, and that it’s crap.
There are only two ways to do things: your way, or the wrong way. 🙂