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How to deal with arrogance?

I've met some arrogant developers and admin types before, but some of the people at my new gig absolutely take the cake.  They'll frequently make loud declarations for all to hear proclaiming how great they are at their work.  The guy next to me, who speaks only at a single volume (extremely loud), was overhead informing his manager that "he is the best XYZ administrator in this town, bar none".

The other day I was trying to help out another developer who requested my help and some know-it-all type comes running over and expresses his opinion at every step of the debugging cycle.  I'm all for group discussions but these guys are only out to prove how much they know.  From what I've observed, most of them are just average developers working with really mundane technology.

I come from a culture where it's considered ill manners to blow your own trumpet.  Am I just being overly sensitive about this?
Anon for this
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
Nah, kill them.
Cornelius Send private email
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
The few people I've encountered like this in the past have generally turned out to be *very* insecure individuals, who needed to take this approach to make themselves feel important in some aspect of their lives.

It's not easy to deal with, but this knowledge helped me out some in those cases.

Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
Do you have to "deal" with it in any way? Can't you just ignore it?
Daniel_DL Send private email
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
Dedicate your entire life to finding things they don't know about then go and show them up whenever the boss is within earshot.
Jimmy Jones
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
You should praise him and let him do all the work.

Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
You are clearly working at my current contract.
I have mentally been repeating the contractor mantra to myself ("I get paid by the hour") and trying to pick my battles.  What you're also going to find is that not only are they arrogant, they're ignorant, and the loudest ones are the least knowledgeable.  They pride themselves on only hiring the best, which is hilarious anyway, and they cycle through contractors at high speed because anyone who passes their hiring exam is way too smart to want to work on their broken code base while being condescended to, so they all quit.  Advice?  Do whatever it takes to stay relaxed and productive, put on the ipod so you can't overhear them, and try to help out where you can.  At least where I work, the chief architect (who is really a tool) is always right, even when he's wrong, and I'm never going to win an argument with him, so I tend to avoid prolonged discussions that are going to go nowhere.  And yes, average programmers, mundane tools, high arrogance.  It's bizarre.
augh
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
+1 to the iPod advice.
It has worked wonders for me.
darkt
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
Take lots of notes, and submit frequently to The Daily WTF. If one of your posts is ever featured, play innocent and point out how curiously it resembles the workplace.

Or better still, get that iPod and keep your eye out for better places.
George Jansen Send private email
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
I've found it best to (at least mentally) refuse to get drawn into any discussions with these sort of people.
At my current client there is a particular colleague who plays devils advocate over literally every topic of discussion.
In the face of overwhelming reason, he will argue every point. Initially I got into heated discussions and even attempted anger - all to no avail.

Now I pretend he doesn't exist, if he joins a coffee-corner discussion, I amble off, if he's in a group discussion, I never respond to anything he says. If I need help on something, he'll be the last person I ask.

A previous post mentions picking your fights: this is good advice - I also perform DBA tasks where this person now has to come to me to roll out db changes and so far he's been politeness personified.

It takes a bit of self-discipline and self-awareness, but it can be learned.
Daemoncoder Send private email
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
I have recommended this book so many times: 'Career Warfare' by d'Alessandro. There is a passage in the book that says that those who are in charge show themselves during crises. It's not that I wish something bad to happen to your company. But the best thing to do is to get the iPod with your favorite tunes, and wait.

Most people never forget what happened during emergency situations.

On last thing, watch your boss carefully. Some bosses are good to learn from, some are not. How is he handling this situation? Is he playing their game? :)
Victor Noagbodji
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
*One
Victor Noagbodji
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
With a bit of manipulation you can get him to do all the work. How cool is that?

By Scott Adam's reckoning, doing less work is exactly the same as a pay rise except you don't have to kiss ass to get it.
Jimmy Jones
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
Feed it right back!

Whenever they start showing off for you, put on a wide grin, shake their hand and say "You are the man!  You are top-notch, a-list, you are THE sh*t. That is some grade-a technical chops right there", thump their back, whatever. 

Lay it on comically thick, but *not* sarcastically or insincerely.  It's subtle... and it might not work depending on how you present yourself around the office normally.

If you do it just right, they'll either perceive how silly they sound and feel embarassed, and maybe tone it down.  Or, they'll eat it up, love it, and think you're their biggest fan.  Which is hilarious!  You can't lose!!
A
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
+1 A's post. Thanks for the laugh.
Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before Send private email
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
"Lay it on comically thick, but *not* sarcastically or insincerely. "

Perfect advice.

Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
You don't want to mention it in the office at all - comically or otherwise. Listening to them being arrogant is one thing. Dealing with them once they've realised you consider them all chumps will definitely take it to the next level of pain.

Maybe this will help....

http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf
Duncan Sharpe
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
Today after lunch while having a nice espresso we talked about guys we met before. One of this guys was extremely annoying.... he is now the CEO of a Bank in Costa Rica.
Jorge Diaz Tambley Send private email
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
"...once they've realised you consider them all chumps..."

ah, but if they think that, then you did it wrong!

how abot this:

The trick is to first convince *yourself* that they're good.  (They must be doing *something* right!)  After you've convinced yourself that they're good, then you can easily make sincere compliments.  They get to feel good while boasting, you don't have to sit there and passively stew, you gain a reputation for being positive and supportive, you build allies, they enjoy the compliments -- everybody wins!
A
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
>> The other day I was trying to help out another developer who requested my help and some know-it-all type comes running over and expresses his opinion at every step of the debugging cycle.<<

Try:

"Oh, hi Joe. Hey - you obviously have some spare cycles. Can you help Brianna out with this? I've got to get back to my deadline..."

He will run, fast. Or, he'll take over the job. Either way, you win.
Colin Nicholls Send private email
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
Colin's approach is pure genius.
Tony Chang
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
"I come from a culture where it's considered ill manners to blow your own trumpet.  Am I just being overly sensitive about this?"

Generally speaking this is true in many (most?) cultures.  I would say in most parts of the US it is true except in Washington DC :-)

"the loudest ones are the least knowledgeable"

This is very true!
Itchy
Thursday, June 19, 2008
 
 
+1 to {blank} for "...*very* insecure individuals..."

+100 to Daniel_DL for "Do you have to 'deal' with it in any way? Can't you just ignore it?"
Odysseus Send private email
Friday, June 20, 2008
 
 
I did not hear you say that they were not as good as they said.

If they are as good, I'd gladly bear the arrogance to glean knowledge and methods.

I wish I worked with people like that. I know I'm no star but I'm working with a bunch of black holes. They'd never toot their horn cus it would be so easy to stuff it that it wouldn't be worth it.

Worry that one day you work with people who meek and deserve to be meek. They ask you every moron question and when you ask them why they just didn't "do it" they reply how they are not authorized and it's above their pay grade and the usual litany of a why guy the've memorized.
curdDeveloper
Friday, June 20, 2008
 
 
Going the direct route will probably be tiring and very hard.  What you need to do is to observe the actions that the person does. 

Once you do that, you can create a strategic map of talk/action which causes that person to want to stop being arrogant with you and start asking for you to help with a lot less arrogance. 

The problem with this is that you'll still have to deal with the arrogance they give other people since too many people do the direct route and "try to prove them wrong" which causes quite a bit of "I'm better then you are."  That game can go for a very long time.
Just my 2 pennies
Friday, June 20, 2008
 
 
anonymousforlols
Friday, June 20, 2008
 
 
>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect

So true. The smartest people I know are always doubting their own abilities, while the most ignorant insist they are experts. The latter often insist they are experts on everything.
anony
Friday, June 20, 2008
 
 
Just try to get the most out of them. Everybody is good in at least one thing, for example, if one of those guys knows nothing but somehow earns more money than you... then there has to be something he is doing.

cya!
Nicolás Miyasato Send private email
Sunday, June 22, 2008
 
 

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