Build empathy with developers using humor
Hello Friends, In today’s letter
Exercise: Follow programmers’ jokes.
Links: What is the most expensive product management tool? How to work with developers and how to become a better writer.
Technique to try: Get into programmers' humor
For those of us who didn’t come from an engineering background, understanding the intricacies of a developer’s work can be difficult, and the differences of the mindsets required to do PM and developer jobs don’t exactly make it easier. For a product manager, it’s common to switch context and work on several projects at any time. Development on the other hand often requires long uninterrupted stretches of time.
How do we build empathy without having engineering experience?
There is no substitute for talking to your team, doing retrospectives, learning about the tech stack, and respecting the craft. But there’s also an extra way to build emotional empathy: humor can help you understand problems through analogies, images, and cultural references. Even if you’ve never compiled code first-hand, seeing jokes about it (and there are a lot of them) helps you feel the pain and let you see this part of the job.
Follow programmers’ jokes closely for a month. Humor can help you learn about topical problems that are important enough to be made fun of.
Twitter Programmer Humor
Some of the things you can “learn”
On last-minute change
Even if last-minute changes can’t be avoided you can be more sensitive discussing them with your team if you are able to appreciate how much trouble they can be.
Perhaps it’s not exactly an appropriate picture for a professional newsletter, but all my friends said it made them laugh out loud or told me that’s exactly what happens in their workplace at the moment. So next time the topic of working on several projects at once comes up, you know how it might feel like for some people.
Understanding what makes your colleagues proud of their work and what makes them ashamed is a must-have when building relationships.
Setting unclear requirements is considered one of the most annoying things a PM can do.
On real problems
To put it into perspective, jokes about product managers make up less than 1/3 of the content. There are other more pressing issues in developers’ life.
Memes are a fun way to connect but you still need to do the work of learning the language and understanding your tech stack and it’s limitations. Below are links to resources to help you become a better colleague for your developers.
Inspired by Bindiya Thakkar’s post Top 10 Most Liked Memes from Product People and What it Teaches.
Reading this on the web?
🧠 Worth Learning
📖 Read Top 5 things PM should learn about engineering and what questions to ask when starting a new job.
🎞 Watch Ex-engineering manager and group PM describes what developers expect from PMs and why.
🎧 Listen to Mistakes PM can make when working with engineers and how to collaborate better.
👩🎓 Take the course 50 days of writing by David Perell. Every day you’ll receive an email with writing: how to combine fragmented ideas into one essay, how to actually start writing, how to edit your work. These letters are short and to the point and could benefit anyone who has to write for work.
🔍 Analyze tools from PMs toolbox that have received new rounds of funding. It’s interesting to see valuations, especially relative to each other.
Have fun practicing,
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