Brevity

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32 Replies - 2736 Views - Last Post: 29 July 2019 - 09:40 AM

#16 ArtificialSoldier   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 09:09 AM

I need to get with our Jira admin and look into configuration for it, I appreciate the feedback.

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Try to positively reinforce progress as well. A quick email "thanks for the concise ticket- I am looking into it now..." will likely go a long ways in developing a positive rapport and reinforcing the desired behavior.

You make several good points, this has been going on for long enough that we may be into adversarial territory by now, I know he can tell that I'm frustrated when he comes into my office 5 times a day to tell me something I don't need to know. More communication would be helpful. It's easy to make him butthurt though.

Anyway, thanks for the concise reply, I'll see what I can do about it.
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#17 macosxnerd101   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 10:30 AM

I have (politely) thrown people out of office hours when I have given them as much help as is appropriate. If he is wasting your time, dont be afraid to have him write a ticket. I need you to document that or I dont have time to stop right now. Can you please put that in a ticket? are both good ways to handle personal interactions.
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#18 ArtificialSoldier   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 11:24 AM

Yeah that's the way it happens, although it's cyclical, eventually he'll decide I'm his best friend again and he can cruise on in at any time and talk about the weekend, and then customer issues. If I tell him I'm here to work and not make friends it just hurts his feelings, but it's a fact. I have no desire to be his friend, I just want him to do his job.
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#19 macosxnerd101   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 11:34 AM

The phrase I have picked up is: I need to get things done, and so I need to throw you out. I will see you later.

This is polite, but firm. And it also isnt a comment about it any perceived personal friendship, which hurts his feelings.
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#20 DarenR   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 12:38 PM

View PostArtificialSoldier, on 26 July 2019 - 02:24 PM, said:

If I tell him I'm here to work and not make friends it just hurts his feelings, but it's a fact. I have no desire to be his friend, I just want him to do his job.



gonna be a long lonely life if this is how you approach work.......
the best places ive ever worked, everyone treated each other like friends 1st workers 2nd and we got a lot of stuff done


ive worked with people with the im not her to make friends mind and all burned out right away, or were very disliked to the point they quit because of it. I am not saying you have to be best friends however i am saying that seclusion only hurts you...
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#21 macosxnerd101   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 01:02 PM

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gonna be a long lonely life if this is how you approach work......


To be fair, if the co-worker is annoying and impedes on one's productivity, then establishing firm boundaries can be a healthy thing. Not to speak for ArtificialSoldier, but that is how I have interpreted his posts.
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#22 ArtificialSoldier   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 01:07 PM

I have no problem being friendly with people, I joke around with a lot of people in the office, meetings are fun, etc. That doesn't mean I want to go to Las Vegas with the help desk guy, it doesn't mean I want to hang out outside of work with him, or talk about my wife, or his family, or whatever else. I'm friendly with people here, but I never just stroll up to someone and start making small talk. I'm not here to make small talk, I'm here to do my job. If I'm talking to someone it's work-related. It's respectable and friendly, but it's work-related.

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ive worked with people with the im not her to make friends mind and all burned out right away, or were very disliked to the point they quit because of it.

I've been here since 2002. There's a friendly atmosphere in the office, but my workload is 100%, I do not have time for small talk, and *almost* everyone in the office understands that. I'm not aware of any person here who really dislikes any other person, everyone is pretty easy going. If you don't think I'm easy going, I've been dealing with this situation for ~5 years or so and now I'm asking what other people think when people come to you with information overload, how to help people understand what's relevant and what's a waste of time.
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#23 ArtificialSoldier   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 01:36 PM

I've often wondered if I'm just being an asshole or if there's an issue with him that we need to address. He just walked into my office and said "I know you don't want to be disturbed, but I just have a quick question that I'd like to ask." I'm already thinking "dude, skip the preamble and just ask the question." There's always an introduction with him, he never gets to the point. He asks if the boss has told me about a certain situation with a certain client, I say no, he leaves. I'm thinking, fine, that was a 15 second interaction that could have been 5 seconds, but whatever, nothing to get worked up about, right? That's really my main complaint with him, it takes too many words for him to explain something and way too many words to get him to understand something. But I'm thinking that's fine, I'll go get lunch, maybe it's me, we'll see. I walk by his sister's office and he's got her in a full embrace while she's sitting in front of her computer. So, yeah, maybe boundaries are an issue.

Normally we wouldn't have someone like that employed this long, but his dad owns the place and it's kind of a family affair. I don't think he's very employable either, he's spent a few years in prison and has problems with authority, so I think his dad is doing him a favor with the help desk position.
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#24 macosxnerd101   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 02:11 PM

You said you are the CTO and dad is the owner, right? I don't know what dad is like, but it might be worth asking dad to address the issue.

If my understanding is correct, the issue is really that son is wasting your time. He frequently imposes on your time and distracts from more important work you have. Is that a reasonable assessment of the issue? If so, this is the issue I would ask dad to mitigate. Perhaps the most constructive way to do this is by requesting a protocol for son to follow. Here are some parameters that I would suggest.\
  • Son is not allowed to visit you in person. If he has an issue, he must submit it via a ticket.

  • When he submits a ticket, he is to submit one ticket per issue following a template you provide. If dad asks for a reason, I would concisely say: "It is difficult to identify the key issues in his tickets."


Even though you and I understand why his long-winded tickets are an issue, it may be hard to get this point across to dad (as evidenced by the fact that not everyone here recognized the issue). So I would try and avoid using the phrase "too much information."
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#25 ArtificialSoldier   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 02:20 PM

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He frequently imposes on your time and distracts from more important work you have. Is that a reasonable assessment of the issue?

In general, yeah. It's not necessarily intentional though, he often has work-related things to discuss, it just takes a long time for him to get to the point. He always starts with a preamble, metadata about the question he's about to ask, goes into a bunch of information not relevant to the problem that the client probably told him, and eventually gets to the point that he should have started with. Whenever I try to interrupt to tell him to get to the point, it's like he resets and has to start over again. It's like a toddler telling a story.

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Son is not allowed to visit you in person. If he has an issue, he must submit it via a ticket.

This is what I always push for. We have a messaging application, I want him to use that so that I can address his questions when it's good for me instead of breaking my concentration and needing to pull up the application and physically point to the checkbox in the settings area that he's looking for because reading text on screen isn't his strong point. This wears thin after he's been here for multiple years, I expect him to understand how the application works at this point.

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When he submits a ticket, he is to submit one ticket per issue following a template you provide.

This is something that needs to happen that hasn't yet, this is a good idea and I need to follow up with the person who admins our Jira to get this going.

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Even though you and I understand why his long-winded tickets are an issue, it may be hard to get this point across to dad

I agree, but everyone here who deals with the help desk knows it's an issue, he's known for it. During a meeting when I started to bring him up the other primary developer immediately said "he's wordy" before I could even finish my sentence. People know, I just don't think anyone knows how to address it, but a detailed template would be a good start. Right now, other than a lot of metadata, the only real fields on the tickets are Subject and Description. That allows for a lot of leeway, hopefully we can make that more granular.
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#26 macosxnerd101   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 02:39 PM

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This is what I always push for. We have a messaging application, I want him to use that so that I can address his questions when it's good for me instead of breaking my concentration and needing to pull up the application and physically point to the checkbox in the settings area that he's looking for because reading text on screen isn't his strong point. This wears thin after he's been here for multiple years, I expect him to understand how the application works at this point.


So I always tell my students that if they want something, they need to email me rather than talk to me after class. I let them know that I will very likely forget their request. This is something you can use with this coworker. "I don't have time right now and won't remember if you tell me. Please put it in writing via the messaging application, and I will look at it as soon as I can."

If he complains about using the messaging application, let him know: "You have been here for five years. I'm sure by now you know how to use it." If he feigns ignorance, let him know that it is his responsibility to figure it out.

This approach works when I have students who want to be spoon-fed. It might take a couple iterations, but it's worth a try.
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#27 ArtificialSoldier   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 03:46 PM

I always say that with any bug report, if he ever comes to talk to me about a bug I always say to make a ticket for it.

Just now he had a question about the certification system in the application, which probably make up about 50% of all of his questions and it seems to confuse him easily, and it seems like he forgets my previous answers. One major problem he has is generalizing. He wants to explain each specific situation to me even though they all follow the same general rules. A certification is made up of one or more pieces of content, and if the student completes all of the content, they are certified. That's over-simplified, because there are settings for things like due dates (which don't affect whether or not they're certified, it just gives them a reminder, they can certify after the due date), expirations, etc.

So, he's asking if a student has the content completed, then the admin makes a certification and assigns it to them, do they get credit?

Yes, if they satisfy the requirements for a certification that has just been assigned to them, they get credit.

OK, but what if there's another student, and they completed an online test [content type is not relevant and never has been] in February, and there's a due date for the certification in April, do they get credit?

Yes, like I said, if they satisfy the requirements, they get credit. Due date is only informational.

OK, but what if a student completes the content *TWO YEARS* ago, and ....

This is how the in-person interactions go. I would absolutely love to move this kind of thing to messaging but it would take him literally about 30 minutes to type everything out, and he would have problems reading and understanding my responses.

I think the 2 main issues are a learning disability combined with mild illiteracy or something. When I say it like that, there's probably not a lot to be done, but enforcing ticket templates will at least steer him in the right direction with the tickets. Hopefully with enough time that will transfer to speaking as well.
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#28 macosxnerd101   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 26 July 2019 - 09:08 PM

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Just now he had a question about the certification system in the application, which probably make up about 50% of all of his questions and it seems to confuse him easily, and it seems like he forgets my previous answers.


Document this and present this to your boss. I would insist on one final training session, mainly to cover your ass. After said session, you should no longer be bothered by him over this.

If a student clearly isn't trying and they keep bothering me to spoon-feed them, I will inform them that they are wasting my time and theirs. It's a coin toss as to whether they figure out the content, but it does impact their learning in that they stop badgering me with the same thing when they aren't making an effort to actually master the content.

I have also developed the following philosophy: if I don't have anything nice to say, let someone else say it. In my case, this is usually the Student Success Center or behavioral Intervention Team. In your case, it might be the owner. I don't know the players, but the owner may have less patience for his son's antics than you currently believe.
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#29 h4nnib4l   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 29 July 2019 - 08:05 AM

I feel like it also helps (in some cases, not all...) to be more specific about how disruptive unplanned face-to-face conversations can be to technical work. I used to just generally gripe about getting interrupted, and people would agree but assume I wasn't talking about them and continue to do it. Once I started talking in real terms about how long it took to get back into the problem-solving flow after even a short side conversation, I noticed a drop-off.

This may or may not work with your specific problem child - the effect is somewhat dependent on self-awareness, which said coworker seems to lack.

As for the issue getting him to describe the problem accurately and succinctly in text, you could try pushing for a bullet point format. That's a trick that worked for me to help turn my email novels into something digestible that people wouldn't "put off until later (never)". Suggest that he try turning his long, winding narratives into a series of bullet points. Then, you can review the output with him and let him know which types of bullet points are particularly useful, and which ones don't add value. That way, you're not critiquing the way he normally communicates, but rather offering feedback on something that you asked him to do. That is less likely to engage his defenses because it's less personal.
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#30 NeoTifa   User is offline

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Re: Brevity

Posted 29 July 2019 - 08:19 AM

This thread is entirely too wordy for me to read.
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