I received my first annual review at Mozilla today for my role on the QA (aka “testing”) team. I did relatively well and, apparently, my straight to the heart of things, no-nonsense way of doing QA is largely appreciated. I got a lot of points for my effectiveness in certain areas of my work.
There is one facet of it that isn’t so appreciated and it is actually not really a surprise to me. I was consistently given the feedback that my sarcastic sense of humor was not always appreciated, especially by people who don’t work closely with me often enough to actually tell when I say something as a joke (in an ironic or sarcastic way) rather than meant seriously.
There was also the point that I can be barely abrasive (which goes with the sarcasm and the bullshit-free approach to quality assurance). A number of people found me mildly difficult (at least) to work with at times, though I hadn’t directly been told this by these people. The people on my own team that I’ve butted heads with, on the other hand, have generally been pretty forthright if they think I’m being an ass, which I appreciate. So, I wasn’t really aware that I had been difficult with some of the people mentioned though, on reflection, it wasn’t really surprising.
Truth be told, the most common negative I’ve had on reviews before has been about personality issues. As any of my longterm friends of the last 20 years know, I’ve grown up a lot over my adulthood, especially the last ten years, but I’ve always had too much of a mouth and too little patience with people. It is something that I have been and am working on but a lot of these things slip when I get agitated (like in certain heated moments at work) or just reactive.
When I think about Buddhism, I find it kind of ironic that I am a dedicated Buddhist practitioner these days but am still often very difficult in my speech and attitude. These behaviors are not good examples of “Right Speech” as espoused by the eightfold path and I am not really happy that I have not found a good way to solve the issues that give rise to them.
I do hope that I continue to progress, both spiritually and personally, and become less abrasive or negative in my speech over time. I must say that I maintain a healthy skpeticism of ever being Mr. California Mellow Dude but a lot of difficulties would be solved if I learned to speak less when emotionally agitated and to just ignore the negative speech or actions of others, as they are probably unaware of their own behavior as much as I can be of mine.
I don’t know any particular techniques for mellowing out and calming other than reflectiveness, awareness, and general habit of learning to be silent more. I would be interested in whether others have struggled with being hotheaded or overly sarcastic (or ascerbic) and how they have dealt with these sorts of issues.
Personally, I don’t really want to always be that way. I don’t feel a need to be Mr. Happy but I also really would like to not be so off-putting to people with my mannerisms or habits. It doesn’t improve anyone’s quality of life (humor value aside).