Welcome to OK Human, a podcast that brings you deep thoughts and casual ponderings on topics at the intersection of people and technology. It’s hosted by our very own software guru and (literal) trailblazer, Patrick McVeety-Mill, a.k.a. Booger Bear. He invites other developers and developer-adjacent folks to share big ideas and interesting opinions.
In this inaugural episode, Patrick talks to Headspring Principal Consultant, Yogi Aradhye, about the importance of “developer empathy.” What does empathy have to do with coding, you ask? Probably a lot more than you think. And it’s not just about fluffy feelings and stuff—though emotions are certainly part of it, so don’t knock ’em till you hear this out.
Patrick looks back at his own experience trading software development for traversing the Appalachian trail for six months—leaving behind team members with projects to complete and no form of human contact with him (astral projection turned out to be tougher than he thought on the trail). This experience taught him to think differently about how developers impact each other. How do we equip others to work better in our absence—or in our presence, for that matter? How can we empower the people around us?
Yogi offers a distinct perspective on these topics as a Team Lead on client projects and a mentor to other developers. He talks through some tactics for cultivating emotional intelligence and helping others to learn and grow on their own.
There’s a great extended metaphor about wrinkly pants that will really drive this discussion home for listeners, plus LOTS of relatable chat about:
- What “developer empathy” actually means
- Using Wikis the right way
- Creating more experts on your team
- NOT becoming a blocker
- Improving documentation
- What open source can teach us about autonomy
- How to diffuse emotional situations
- Figuring out what business stakeholders really need and when
- Avoiding burnout by “garbage collecting”
- Understanding people who do things differently (like stop coding at 5, or follow rules)
- How to become a more empathetic leader, coder, and human being
So please join this discussion and learn how YOU can better exercise empathy in your own work to foster tighter knit and more effective teams. There are some links to below to resources we mention in the episode. We’d love to hear from you if you have additional reading or thoughts to share. Tweet @headspring or email firstname.lastname@example.org.