Non-Judging – Mindfulness and software development (2/8)

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Everything we experience, we judge. The purpose of this is primarily to increase our brain’s processing speed. But it has the side effect that a judgment made too soon sets the “tone” for the rest of the experience, thus distorting it. Aside from the fact that the premature judgment or prejudice can be wrong (and usually is, we humans aren’t nearly as good at predicting as we think we are) and leads to a wrong decision, it’s also just less fun to experience something that you think you know exactly how it will turn out. Therefore, mindfulness suggests simply refraining from judgment for a while.

Processors have biases too, by the way! This is called Branch Prediction[i] and increases processing speed there too. But processors can also determine beyond doubt whether the decision was right or wrong and reverse it, which we can’t do. Besides, I don’t really care if my processor has fun at work.

What was a useful mechanism in ancient times for running away or getting food faster than a competitor doesn’t work in the complex modern work environment:

Usefulness of a quick judgement, then versus now

When we software developers are confronted with a bug, for example, I have often observed (yes, also on myself) that a defensive stance is taken up first: “Impossible! I tested it myself and everything worked just now! The user must have done something wrong!” No matter if the user actually made a mistake or not[ii]I will talk more about user errors in a later article – now you have a tense atmosphere that hampers further problem resolution.

A factual approach to isolate the cause of the error, without the preconceived judgment is more pleasant, professional and even faster for both sides.


ii I will talk more about user errors in a later article

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