Developer Tea

Seek to Understand Rather than Persuade Others Perspectives

Episode Summary

Take a moment to do a thought experiment. Remove your thought extractions.

Episode Notes

In the past, we've done exercises that focus on us as the person who is at the center of the story but today's exercise is going to focus less on you as a person and what you want and more on your vantage point, what you see and perceive. In today's episode, we want you to think about this moment in time.

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Episode Transcription

Take a moment if you're listening to this episode to do a little thought experiment. It'll take two or three minutes. Eliminate all distractions. We've done this a few times on this show and I believe it's really helpful to pause in your day and really focus on these mental exercises. To listening to Developer Tea, my name is Jonathan Cutrell. My goal on this show is to help driven developers, just like you, find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. In the past we've done exercises that focus on us as the person who is at the center of the story. Today's exercise is going to focus less on you as a person and what you want or what you think what you feel, and more on your vantage point, what you see, what you perceive. The thought experiment is very simple. I want you to imagine this moment in time. Now imagine that you are trying to calculate exactly where in time this moment is happening. As your brain experiences the current moment, you're actually experiencing a bit of latency. So what you see or what you're processing in your brain is not the real now. This is kind of hard to understand, but you can think about this as latency of an input on a machine. And typing letters and then waiting for them to show up on the screen. Now typically we imagine that the latency that we experience in our lives is close enough to the present that it doesn't really matter because everyone experiences the same kind of latency, right? So we can imagine that we're actually living this very slightly delayed moment into the past, but how is this actually possible? How is it that we have both an experience of the past, but an inability to go to the past, to re-experience it? We're not able to visit the past, but we're constantly visiting the past. It may finally occur to us that reality, as we experience it, is actually a re-projection of reality. It's taking in some kind of input from the world around us through the senses, the various senses that we have, and then we're perceiving it after it happens. Our perception experiences now and then uses our perception as kind of a backdrop. You can imagine like a projector that's throwing a picture up onto a wall. And we see that picture, that representation or representation of reality on that screen, that screen being our perception. Now, imagine that that perception is manipulatable, right? You can change the color of the screen, or you might move the screen further away. Or maybe the projection itself is manipulated. You can move it in and out of focus. People may be able to block parts of that projection with their hands, causing shadows on it. Now, not only is it a projection of reality that we're experiencing rather than raw reality itself, but we're also able to remember previous projections. We have these recordings in our brain, these historical accounts. But because our brain isn't really experiencing raw reality, instead it's experiencing our own projections of reality. Those recordings are more like videotapes than they are digital representations. With a digital representation like a DVD, you aren't going to see degradation of quality. Whatever is there is always there. But with something like a VHS, for those of you who remember VHS, you know that the more that you play the tape, the more likely it is to degrade. You can even record over the top of another tape. You can have dual recordings and one ghosts on top of the other. And as we replay our memories in our mind, we change them. We shift them. What is perhaps even more interesting is that we are a part of a much longer history. That between the infinitely small, whatever that is, and the infinitely large, whatever that is, we are discreetly somewhere in between. The matter, the elements, the materials that make up our body have been around for much longer than the memories that we have that we can replay. Now, with all of this, the whole point of this thought experiment, of thinking about time in our place in it, and our memories in how we replay them, and even the future, the imagined future that we have, which we kind of play similarly to memories. All of this is to reinforce the simple reality that our perception is all we have to experience. Why does this matter to us as developers and as humans? We're going to talk about that right after we talk about today's sponsor. We're talking about perspective in today's episode of Developer Tea. The fact that what we experience in our life is mostly limited by our perspective, and that goes for life's big questions, but perhaps most importantly for today's sponsor, it goes for the small questions, too. Like for example, how do we avoid shipping bugs in our code? A most of us have this program knowledge in our mind. We immediately jump to writing tests. This driven development is the answer to all of our code's problems, but the truth is that that is only one perspective. It's only one part of the solution. If you really want to attack the problem of shipping bugs into your production code, you have to come at it from multiple angles, multiple perspectives. The truth is, people are really bad at predicting how things will go wrong. They're very good at looking back and evaluating how things went wrong, but we're not very good at predicting it. Writing tests is an exercise in predicting what may go wrong. It's also very difficult to predict how people will interact with your software, and it's even more difficult to continuously do this as your software changes. A better way, a more cost-effective way especially, is to rely on something like CENTRY. CENTRY will report to you the moment an error occurs, so you can fix it before your users see it. So you shouldn't be relying on your users to tell you about this, because realistically, many of your users will probably leave before they will do you the courtesy of telling you about errors in your code. Writing not only provides information about the error and the full stack trace, but it also gives you a link to the code that was committed, that is the source of the error, as well as the user who is responsible for that code. So you can track it down and get a fixed as efficiently as possible. Go and check out what CENTRY has to offer. Head over to to get started today. Thanks again to CENTRY for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. Now, if you listen through the ad read, you actually can see one of the reasons why perception matters. Different perceptions, even at relatively small scales, like solving a given problem in your code, having different perceptions is critical to finding a good solution. The reality is all of our perceptions have different distortions. We have different lenses, different shadows on that projection. Our memories, those tapes have been played in different ways and damaged in different ways. And we have different projections about the future. All of that kind of projection hardware, if you want to call it that, is different for each person. And so it's critical that because some parts of our projections and our perceptions are better than others, or they're more effective to whatever we're trying to accomplish than others. If we balance those perceptions together with other perceptions, especially perceptions that are different from ours, then we're going to have a higher likelihood, just statistically speaking, a higher likelihood of success. But this isn't just about collaborating with people who have different perceptions from you. It's also about changing the way that you understand other people's perceptions. You see, if you take your perception and you apply it to another person, then their behavior may seem irrational. The problem that we have is that we apply the concepts of rationality to perception. In other words, we see something as black and white that is actually not necessarily black and white. This happens all the time in code. It happens all of the time in cultural issues. It happens in pretty much every area of our lives. Perception is incredibly important to both understand and respect for the people around you. Critical error that people make, and this isn't just developers certainly, but people in general, the critical error that we make, is viewing our perception as the only perception that exists and then applying that perception as if it is kind of a gold standard of rationality or of decision making. We can see this at play. We can see these different perceptions at play. When you think about anything that involves taste, preference, this kind of music that I like may be different from the kind of music that another person likes. The reasons that we like that music may be different from each other. Hopefully we can all make the leap that my preference in music shouldn't be held in my mind as the best preference in music. But my definition of what is a good song can and perhaps should be flexible and different from what another person's definition is. Now if this is true, then we should be able to apply similar things to other parts of our perception. And in very few cases when we are developing software, do we come upon a situation where if somebody's opinion is absolutely rationally correct? We need to understand that our opinions will differ and that we have to learn to collaborate through our differences. If we continue to hold our opinion as if it is absolutely correct, as if it is inarguable, then we lower our ability to collaborate. So my recommendation for this episode, coming out of this, after doing this exercise, hopefully you see that perception is a very strong part of your life. It's almost everything that you experience. So my recommendation is for you to seek to understand the perceptions of others. Seek to understand their viewpoint. What is their projection? What is playing from their memories? How do they experience what you are also experiencing through your perception? And how do those things differ? This can help you drastically with mediating conflict, but it can also help you when you are in a creative collaboration mode. Seek to understand the perception, the experience, the viewpoint that other people have. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. This is a difficult topic. It's one that is hard to grasp entirely and sometimes even if we understand and agree with these things, they're hard to implement. So I wish you the best as you move forward in your career and you try to understand what other people are going through. You build up that empathy for other people's perspectives. This is really critical to growing in your career. So I wish you good luck on that trip and I would love to hear from you your experiences with this endeavor. You can email me at Developer Tea. A Gmail. You can also reach me on Twitter. My personal Twitter is at J. Cutrell. Of course, the Developer Teashow Twitter is at Developer Tea. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you again to today's sponsor, Century. Go and get a new perspective on your errors by installing and enabling Century. Head over to to get started finding those bugs before your users do today. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.