Stay humble posted on 02 March 2024

Once in a while, I meet senior software engineers that are pretty arrogant – whether because they don’t let people finish their thoughts or because they make snarky comments like “How can you not know this?”. These are toxic behaviors.

Senior engineers are models for junior ones, so any toxic behavior from them has more ramifications than if they were from a junior/singleton engineer. These behaviors will naturally shut down creative (and potentially better) solutions, create a culture of fear and overall make people leave the company.

Ignoring the actual impact, you should always stay humble as an engineer for a few reasons:

  • Even if you are an expert in your domain, there are fields where your knowledge is shallow (e.g. you may be an expert on databases but may have zero knowledge on how to build a global privacy infrastructure). There’s no need to be condescendent when someone isn’t savvy on your specific domain.
  • You can learn from everyone – I strongly believe that every insight can be valuable regardless of level or tenure. As a senior IC, I learn a lot from both:

    • Senior leadership on how they frame problems, their different perspectives on problems etc.
    • Junior engineers as they are closer to the actual code – and its pain points whether these are about writing code, releasing it or testing it. They also sometimes have creative solutions that never occurred to me.
  • You were a junior engineer at some point in your career. You likely didn’t enjoy such behaviors, so don’t reproduce them – raise the bar (this is actually one of hashtag#databricks core values), be better than your mentor.

Regardless of the reasons above, being nice to people is just the right thing to do. Be nice to your coworkers who are trying their best.

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