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Embracing Confusion

Published 2/14/2020

What does it mean to be confused?

In today's episode, we're talking about confusion and how we manage and learn from points of professional confusion. We'd dig into the perception of confusion in the workplace and offer tips to embrace confusion both in ourselves and with our co-workers.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
What does it mean to be confused? What exactly is happening in our brains and in reality? I want you to give this question some thought while you're listening to this episode. And then I want you to imagine how this might apply to your interactions with other developers, perhaps your manager or if you are manager, your direct reports, the company you lead. I want you to think about the role of perception and the work you do. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. And the goal of this show is to help driven developers find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. So think about this question. What does it mean to be confused? The simple assertion to kind of guide you in this is to recognize that confusion doesn't exist outside of someone's mind. And in this we are including the fact that animals can become confused, but confusion is a problem of perception. It is not even really a problem when you look at it from this frame because it's very easy to see that confusion can lead to learning. Confusion for example in a child might lead to curiosity. But in our professional lives we tend to see confusion as a sign of weakness or perhaps a lack of preparation. The truth is that we all have gaps in our knowledge, that we all have moments of confusion. Even about things that perhaps at one point we actually knew a lot about. It's possible that our perception has changed about even the same subjects that we have developed knowledge around in the past. And so it makes sense that we should be kind and perhaps even invite confusion to be a more regular part of our work. So how can we do this for ourselves and for others perhaps most importantly? That's what we're going to talk about right after we talk about today's sponsor, Linode. Whether you're working on a personal project or managing your enterprise's infrastructure, Linode has the price support and scale that you need to take your project to the next level. With 11 data centers worldwide, latency is not going to be a serious issue. They have S3 compatible storage options and their next generation network. Linode delivers the performance you expect at a price that you don't and they're going to give you $20 worth of credit just for being a listener of Developer Tea. Their nano plans start as low as $5 a month and of course that goes all the way up to dedicated CPU plans or GPU compute plans block storage. Go and check it out. Head over to linode.com slash Developer Teato get started today. Use the code Developer Tea2020 to get that $20 worth of credit that's Developer Tea 2020. Thanks again to Linode for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So how can we not only be kind to ourselves and kind to others when we experience something like confusion but also invite it. Invite confusion because we know that after confusion often comes curiosity and learning. It helps to regularly experience confusion yourself. Try to expose yourself to new experiences that force you to think in ways that you're not necessarily naturally going to think in. This experience of confusion will remind you what it's like to be a beginner again. So you'll naturally kind of build some empathy up for that beginner mindset but it's also important to understand that sometimes the best people to understand confusion, the confusion of being a beginner are people who are more recently beginners themselves. So if you're running an organization it might make sense to not only allow much more experience programmers to be mentors of younger or less experienced programmers but also to allow the ones who were beginners not very long ago allow them to be mentors as well. The final exercise that I want you to employ when you are in a situation where one person is confused and another person is not is walk through your assumptions, walk through your assumptions and verify, validate those assumptions, test yourself against them, test the perception of the person who is confused who is expressing confusion. Sometimes they are seeing something that is confusing that you aren't seeing at all. It's very possible that confusion is a more appropriate response to whatever reality you're facing together, that you are the one who has the limited vision. Ultimately, work to reduce the stigma around admitting confusion, admitting a lack of knowledge, admitting the need for help or the desire for a different perspective. The idea that we can go it alone, that we can own our entire feature, this is based on an old model of thinking and it doesn't really reflect all of the learning that has been done about collaboration. Be quick to raise your hand when you are confused. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. You can get 20 dollars worth of credit by heading over to lino.com slash Developer Teausing the code Developer Tea 2020 that's Developer Tea 2020 all one word. Check out today's episode was produced by Sarah Jackson. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and until next time, enjoy your tea.