Not Being Kind

Posted in Thoughts

I shared this awesome blog post by Andrew Bosworth (early Facebook employee, now a VP there) on Twitter:

Be Kind

The message to resonated with a lot of folks, and I was impressed by the frankness and humility in sharing that story. I’m inspired to do the same.

During one of my startup stints early in my career, I was one of the only engineers in the company who got hired as a generalist but focused primarily on the front end (this was mostly before front-end engineering was even a recognized discipline). That skill made me valuable within the engineering team, and I worked often with engineers who focused on back-end technologies to build new features.

One of those projects had me paired with a friend. I figured we were similarly skilled, but I also understood enough about how our back ends worked to inject my semi-informed opinions. As we tried to hash out the design, I became a jerk with a chip on my shoulder; I’d shut down all discussion about how the front end would be built, but still insist that I had a voice in how the rest of the system should be planned.

I was trying to prove how smart I was, and somewhat expectedly, my friend responded in kind.

Eventually our product manager pulled us aside and told us to knock it off. It took someone outside of our little bubble to show us how our petty boasts didn’t actually progress the code or feature, and it only degraded our reputations in the eyes of others on the team. Neither of us were being nice or kind, but we resolved to act like professionals from that point onward.

Kindness enables progress and amplifies the abilities of myself and others. It’s also just the right thing to do.