The Unacceptability of Poor Social Skills in IT, Part 2

Don Tennant

My previous post, "Why the Preponderance of Poor Social Skills in IT Is Unacceptable" highlighted the incivility and mean-spiritedness that show a lack of well-developed interpersonal skills, a trait often associated with the IT profession. I referred to a discussion I'd had with the CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates, who mentioned that helping the IT community gain the social skills it needs is big business for his company. This is Part 2 of that story.


That post cited excerpts from a couple of reader comments I received in response to an earlier post I'd written about how important it is for disenchanted IT workers to avoid dissuading their kids from entering the IT profession and, even more importantly, to avoid passing along a pessimistic outlook. I received a rash of comments from readers who vehemently disagreed with that viewpoint, but as of Monday, I hadn't responded to any of them. That's when a reader who identified himself as "Chicken Hero" posted this comment:

Where are you Don Tennant ? Why don't you reply at all man ? Are you just a chicken salad or chicken Sht ? You just post your blame on all American parents and run away without a single reply? Is it how you are? or you just want to throw flames and hide your hands under your own ass? I want to see your opinion on the replies above ... Don't be a chicken sht man!! Come on!! Don't run away from the ring man.. Don't hide yourself under you mommy skirt man.. let show us some of your man hood man.. By the way, don't delete my post man.. Am I am right American Parents ?

This was my reply, posted on Wednesday:

Sometimes life gets in the way of replying to blog comments, my friend. Let me just say this in response to you: I am very happy to stand on my record of expressing my views and responding to comments from people who disagree with me. And I find it awfully ironic that you're accusing me of hiding under a mommy skirt when every word I write is under my own name, while you choose to hide in the shadow of anonymity. I'm just sayin'...

On Thursday, a different reader responded to that reply:

Don - difference is you get paid and probably have been offered other opportunities due to your opinions. We, on the other hand, face possible black listing if we express our opinions under our real names. How very brave (and convenient) for you.

That position is core to the incivility discussion, and is the reason I want to continue it here. I don't want my response to be buried in the reader comments of a previous post, so here it is:


The reader to whom I replied challenged me for my failure to respond to the reader comments in that post. What is it about making such a challenge that would cause a person to be blacklisted by anyone?


Obviously the reader's argument was nonsensical, but it's the one that people who choose to hide in the shadow of anonymity invariably cite. In truth, the reason these people want to stay hidden has nothing to do with their viewpoint, but rather with the manner in which they choose to express it. By remaining anonymous, they're free to engage in personal attacks and mean-spiritedness without being called to account for it. My hunch is that most of them would be deeply embarrassed if their names were associated with what they'd written.


And that takes us back to the reason Dale Carnegie has its work cut out for it, and why the company's business in helping IT people develop interpersonal skills is booming.


By the way, Dale Carnegie's CEO, Peter Handal, chimed in on the discussion that prompted all of this in the first place, about IT workers who discourage their children from pursuing a dream to work in IT. Here's what Handal had to say:

From a business point of view, just because something is in a cyclical downturn doesn't mean that the five-year or 10-year future of that industry is going to be bad. The economy is so vibrant and so changeable, and things turn around so quickly, it's really silly to try to make that kind of forecast. Find out what your child likes and what the child is good at, and help the child develop those likes and abilities. Because I think that's the key to success-doing what you like and doing what you're good at.

Enough said.

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