It takes more than great code
to be a great engineer.

Soft Skills Engineering is a weekly advice podcast for software developers.

The show's hosts are experienced developers who answer your questions about topics like:

  • pay raises
  • hiring and firing developers
  • technical leadership
  • learning new technologies
  • quitting your job
  • getting promoted
  • code review etiquette
  • and much more...

Soft Skills Engineering is made possible through generous donations from listeners. A heart with a striped shadowSupport us on Patreon

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Recent Episodes

Latest Episode

Episode 141: A Rampant Rewriter and Dealing with an Overexplainer (rerun of episode 73)

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This is a re-broadcast of episode 73 from August 2017. We’ll be back next week with a new episode!

In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. A developer on my team has been rewriting my code under the guise of “code cleanup” without saying anything to me. Is this normal? What should I do?
  2. How do you deal with co-workers who over-explain unimportant issues?
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Episode 140: Should I apologize for my bugs after I quit and should I become a project manager

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Shan writes:

    “Awesome podcast! I’ve used your advice to better communicate with my employers which has been super helpful.

    I recently was working as an intern at a company where I did quite a bit of significant work. I left to pursue a Master’s in CS. I set the expectation that I would be available for questions, but not bug fixes during at least the beginning part of grad school. The company said that was totally fine and they would take any amount of work I could give them.

    I’ve noticed some bugs that have to do with what I was working on. I feel really bad for my team having to work on those bugs while I’m not. It is getting to the point that it is distracting me during the day as I see emails or Slack messages about them. I want to help them, but I just don’t have the time. I am also worried that the reputation I built up of being a solid engineer is damaged.

    Should I apologize to my teammates that have to work on my now legacy code?

    I have this feeling of having abandoned my team. Any thoughts on how to mitigate those feelings?

  2. I work as software engineer at a ~10 person software agency. During my last review my manager rejected my salary raise proposal arguing that I reached the top level for my current position. He said to get a raise, I would have to act as project manager to get commissions for new projects I acquire. I feel conflicted, since even though I like the idea of upping my game, I do not know much about handling this kind of situations with clients. What is your recommendation for developers getting out of the world of code and into the world of people? Bonus question: Ideas on how to get new projects from clients?

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Episode 139: How to deal with badmouthing and how to survive in a loud open office

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In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. My boss is fairly new to management and has recently made some decisions which had a negative impact on my squad. While this was annoying, it didn’t cause any major problems - we worked around the issues and recovered and everyone including my boss learned from the experience. However, my squad has started criticising him pretty harshly in standups and retrospectives and it’s making me really uncomfortable. Often their criticisms are for things that he has very little influence over and it seems like they’re scapegoating him for the general dysfunction within the company. He’s a nice guy who is trying his best and I wouldn’t want him to think I’m taking part in these badmouthing sessions if word ever gets back to him. He doesn’t manage any of the other squad members. What should I do?

  2. I work at a big software company and sit in a room with about 20 people. Not all of them are on my project, and lots of them are REALLY loud. You know like in a stock market or something. I use headphones to listen to your podcast (well, not only yours to be honest) but usually that’s no help. I turn on music - still can hear every word. These guys somehow think it’s ok to discuss their work in our room instead of a meeting room (which we have plenty of), and do it loudly, while me and my team always go somewhere else to talk.

    I talked to these guys a couple of times about it. They laughed and said they would try to be a little bit more quiet, but forgot this promise 5 minutes later. How else can I handle this situation? I have good relationships with all of them (probably that’s why I had not been taken seriously), but I don’t want to lose them.