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 360: Mixing up names and improving without feedback


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. At work, I occasionally mix names of people in my team when I refer to them in meetings. My mother used to do this with my siblings when I was a child and I hated it. I guess I am getting older. Should I just accept the defeat? Any suggestions how to deal with this?

  2. How do I find areas to improve without critical feedback? I’ve had regular 1-on-1s with multiple people over the years (managers, mentors, tech leads), and asked for feedback regularly. Yet, most, if not all of the feedback I received was positive. Even when I stress that I want to receive critical feedback as well, the other person tells me that they do give such feedback to other devs, they just don’t have anything to criticize!

    This sounds like a humble brag, but I’m concerned that I will stop growing and improving if this goes on. I’m also a bit worried that deep down, the managers/leads just keep quiet to keep me happy - either because we have a friendly relationship, or because I’m one of the only women on the team (not trying to accuse them of sexism, but lets be real - “locker room talks” are held back when I’m around, and it might cause some people to be less frank to avoid possible “‘drama”).

    Due to the lack of direction, I’m trying to look at my senior colleagues and what they do better than me - do they have more technical knowledge, do they communicate better, etc. - but it’s often hard to apply to myself due to specializing in different areas, having different personalities and so on.

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Episode 359: Competition and awkward in person


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi Dave and Jamison!

    What do you do when one of your immediate teammates is constantly competing against you?

    I really don’t like competition. Ignoring the competitiveness + praising his value did not work.

    Some examples:

    • Leaving code reviews comments showing off obvious knowledge which does not really add value to the PR
    • Constantly harassing you to pair on trivial matters (I think because “pairing with someone less experienced” is a trait desirable in our engineer scoring framework)
    • Picking up a bigger version of whatever ticket you just did
    • Trying to be the first to “answer your question” in public without actually answering the question (this makes it difficult for me to actually get answer for question I ask because other would think it’s “resolved”)

    Part of me feels flattered that somebody who has more years in the job sees me as worthy of competing against, but at some point it became annoying and counterproductive.

    Appreciate your thoughts. Please don’t tell me quitting my job and saying goodbye once and for all is the solution😂

  2. I am graduating this year and have received two job offers. They are both very similar in terms of pay and benefits, the only difference is that one is fully remote and the other is hybrid (2x a week in person).

    I would normally jump on the chance to work remotely, mainly due to the fact I am a bit socially awkward and shy. However, I am conflicted if I should accept the hybrid offer as an opportunity to work on my social skills and experience working in an office sooner rather than later.

    Should I just accept that my personality isn’t suited for in-person? Have you ever had anyone on your team be socially awkward/shy? How did you feel about them?

    PS. Have you guys ever thought of releasing merch? I’d love to buy a “space lawyers tshirt”. Thanks!!!

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Episode 358: Sticky Note Scandal and startup appeal


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. During our next team meeting I jokingly gave a status report on the state of my desk and referenced the note.

    I believe this was the first time someone had publicly acknowledged the note writer, and it invoked a very passionate response from my teammates expressing their own annoyances with the anonymous writer.

    It began to escalate the following week. Copy cat writers began writing their own sarcastic notes, and junior devs were (jokingly) doing handwriting analyses to find the culprit. I participated in none of this.

    However my manager pulled me aside to say he is now forced to address the situation due to someone filing an official complaint that I was “instigating workplace harassment” and that I created a “hostile, unsafe environment”. He informed me we will be having a meeting with HR regarding this incident.

    I have never had a meeting with HR before. I am very afraid of potentially losing my job due to this. I find this whole situation ridiculous and feel very frustrated. Please help me not make this a bigger mess than it already is.

  2. Aaron asks,

    Last week I listened to a show where Jamison announced that he was looking for work, and specifically looking for small to medium startups. I have only worked at larger tech companies, and currently enjoy my position within one of the largest. However, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to work at a startup. What makes startups appealing? Is it still reasonable to expect a good work/life balance, or do you go in expecting a big shift in how you dedicate your time?