My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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Chad Fowler describes the problem:
What I've noticed since coming back from India is that in America we are so focused on ourselves that we don't even take the time to learn about our teammates from other parts of the United States. What's the special food in Minnesota? What do Arizonans do on the weekends in their nonexistent winters? The United States is a diverse place, and we don't even bother to learn about our own diverse culture, much less the cultures of people on the outside.
I don't want to get into the merits of whether or not Americans are inward-looking and selfish. The important part here is that as the world becomes smaller, nation-states are losing importance as cultural and political boundaries, and we're increasingly exposed (and exposing ourselves to) new people from unfamiliar places. We can choose to embrace this, or fight it.

In the battle between you and the world, bet on the world.

It's pointless to fight it. You can try to change the world. Or, you could think of changing yourself. Luckily, it's fairly easy to turn this to your advantage: just show people that you care about them as humans, not just colleagues.
If I have to depend on someone to get something done for me or to deliver a piece of software that I have to successfully integrate with, I'm going to have much better luck if that person feels I respect them and if they respect me. Would you respect someone who wouldn't even bother to learn how to pronounce your name?
If you show your teammates that you are interested in them as people, you will form tighter bonds and, on the whole, do better work.
On the contrary, you could be an ass - perhaps without even realizing it:
As I got to know our team members in India, I often heard them say that I wasn't like the typical American manager. When I asked what they meant, those who felt comfortable enough would say, You actually take an interest in us. Most of you are just angry and short with us.
I had a fellow student at school say the same thing to me. He asked, "Are you natively American?" It was eye opening to think that he had been treated so poorly by other Americans that he had to ask me if I am one (I am.)

Incidentally, this is a tactic in getting anyone to like you generally, so if you have friends, you don't need to learn any new skills. In this case, it may be even easier because you know tons of things exist that you don't know about them: just pick a couple and ask about them. All Chad had to do was say "Hello, my name is Chad" in their native language. It's about making a small effort, that's all.

This week marks the end of the Save Your Job series, at least as far as following each chapter of Chad Fowler's book, My Job Went To India. Why? Well, because it's the last one in the book. I'll still post to that category as things come up, but it's not likely to be weekly.

This is a book that, in my opinion, is a must-read for software developers, and it's so short you can read it multiple times - to remind yourself as you slip back into old habits, or to reinvigorate interest in goals you set for yourself in times past.

In any case, I hope you've enjoyed the weekly series, and more than anything else, I hope you got something useful from it. It was useful to me!

While I thoroughly enjoyed Chad's book, I must say I'm glad to be done with the series. I've been wanting to free up some time to do some more technical things, like playing with my new Arduino Diecimila.

Keep watching.

Hey! Why don't you make your life easier and subscribe to the full post or short blurb RSS feed? I'm so confident you'll love my smelly pasta plate wisdom that I'm offering a no-strings-attached, lifetime money back guarantee!

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