Should I tell my coworker to stop mentioning my name during standup?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Consulting Startup9 months ago

Hello. For anonymity, my name is John, and my coworker is Bob.

Bob is relatively new, so I help Bob out when he's blocked on a JIRA ticket. I don't mind helping, but Bob only mentions my name during standup when he's unsure of something (e.g., John and I worked on this ticket, and we think this might be the issue).

During the times my name was mentioned, I probably did think that was the issue, but these are incomplete thoughts + theories that I'd rather not be publicized if I am wrong (I don't mind being wrong in public, but I'd rather be wrong on my terms).

I don't think Bob is doing the above on purpose, but it does bother me.

Here are some possible solutions I've considered:

  • (a) After sharing a theory, tell Bob that he doesn't have to mention this theory and/or my name during standup
  • (b) Only share theories with Bob that I can 100% back up
  • (c) Say something to Bob about their past behavioral patterns

I think (c) is too confrontational, and given that I don't think that Bob is doing it on purpose, I can probably skip this. I want to stick with only (b), but I want the option to share an incomplete theory as it may indirectly help Bob to a solution or teach them something new.

What do you all think?

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(3 comments)
  • Profile picture
    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    9 months ago

    I can tell you've put a lot of thought into this, which I love!

    I'd reflect on why you don't like Bob mentioning your name on those incomplete thoughts. You mentioned that it may reflect poorly on you, but there's another element which is that it may also confuse the rest of the team. Having one person be confused is totally normal (that's the default state for most engineers anyway 😅), but having 2+ engineers stuck adds an undue amount of gravity to the problem that may be alarming to others. That's the way I'd frame the conversation with Bob.

    Hey Bob, when you report updates in standup about theories you're investigating, I'm a bit concerned that the rest of the team may get confused about our progress and how stuck we are. I typically try to get some clarity before sharing updates, and if I do request help, I run it by the people I worked with before broadcasting that. What do you think?

    Framing this as something that can hurt the team, as opposed to something you personally don't like, is always more compelling.

    I am not a fan of withholding theories or ideas from Bob (option b). It'll lead to a less open team, and there's also a mental tax for you -- what you've shared with Bob vs others on the team?

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    9 months ago

    Similar to what Rahul said, I really love how thoroughly detailed this is! Here are my thoughts.

    Quick "fix": Whenever you give Bob a theory that you aren't 100% sure of, just append "But please don't quote me on that, there's a good chance this is completely wrong 😂". If you're talking in person, make sure to say this in a light-hearted way. This is a very powerful tactic I cover in my video on using effective communication to build up relationships: Humor and self-deprecation are really good at creating fun atmosphere and building up trust. This is effectively a sharpened version of your (a) option.

    Side note: I think this may be an example of mentally creating a problem that doesn't actually exist. Software engineers try out crazy stuff all the time - There's nothing wrong with being attached to a somewhat wacky idea. If it's really bothering you, you can ask your manager if it's reflecting poorly on you. If they think it's perfectly fine, you can safely remove this entire situation from your mental space and occupy it with more useful things. 😊

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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Consulting Startup
    9 months ago

    Thanks for the suggestions and your time + thoughts, Rahul and Alex!!

    @Rahul: Framing it as a potential team issue is very clever; I had a similar thought, but I wasn't sure how to execute it, haha. Thanks for validating my thought!

    @Alex: I love the quick fix! I was able to use it today. My girlfriend and I had a good laugh from your side note haha.

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