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Geeks Prefer Competence To Niceness 300

Death Metal writes "While everyone would like to work for a nice person who is always right, IT pros will prefer a jerk who is always right over a nice person who is always wrong. Wrong creates unnecessary work, impossible situations and major failures. Wrong is evil, and it must be defeated. Capacity for technical reasoning trumps all other professional factors, period."


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Geeks Prefer Competence To Niceness

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  • and yet (Score:4, Funny)

    by denttford ( 579202 ) * on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:15PM (#29367099) Homepage
    and yet we come back to a site run by /. editors.
  • I would take (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Danimoth ( 852665 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:16PM (#29367125)
    I would take someone bearable who usually does it right over either of those.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Exactly. Given the question would you rather work for a) a jerk who is always right or b) a nice person who is always wrong, i'd pencil in: c) a nice person who is occasionally wrong. Otherwise, it's a false dichotomy.
      • Re:I would take (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:36PM (#29367423) Homepage

        I'm perfectly happy with my situation. A boss who is pleasant, willing to go to bat w/ HR/training/ES&H/upper management/whoever, has no technical skills, accepts that he has no technical skills, and yields to recommendations from us underlings on most issues that won't affect his performance review.

        On a side note, The IT Crowd may amuse some. Brit show with an incompetent IT boss, a pair of competent IT grunts, and bad English humor (humour?).

        • "may amuse" is an understatement. Anyone who has ever done any kind of corporate IT support will love it. Especially how Roy has a new Thinkgeek shirt in every episode.
        • Re:I would take (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:13PM (#29368023)

          Good IT pros are not anti-bureaucracy, as many observers think. They are anti-stupidity.

          Truer words were never spoken.

        • Re:I would take (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:18PM (#29368117) Homepage Journal

          Agreed. A boss doesn't have to be technical, nor "right" all the time, so long as the boss acknowledges what he or she doesn't know and doesn't try to pretend he/she knows something that he/she doesn't.

          It is when a boss thinks he or she knows everything but actually knows nothing that errors are made. A boss can be completely clueless as long as he/she defers to your expertise. The ones we really can't stand are the ones who are clueless but don't know it. They give bad advice that leads their underlings repeatedly down wrong paths, then ding the underlings on salary reviews for listening to them.

          Only slightly better are the bosses that let their employees graze and don't give them any guidance about what they are trying to accomplish. Neither type of boss is particularly effective, and both are, sadly, far more common than good bosses.

          • Re:I would take (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @02:55PM (#29369621)

            The over-technical boss isn't only bad if he/she is clueless and frequently wrong--- one who's usually right and refuses to delegate anything to anyone can be a huge pain too, because they don't actually have the time to do every single person's job for them, but often try to micromanage as if they did. I mean, if they could actually do the details of everyone's project, why have employees under them at all? Sometimes a manager doesn't need to know the details, even if they're smart and knowledgeable enough that they could be brought up to speed if necessary.

      • Re:I would take (Score:4, Interesting)

        by DudeTheMath ( 522264 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:15PM (#29368069) Homepage

        Wait: If the nice person is always wrong, why not enjoy working with them while doing the opposite of whatever they do? If someone is occasionally wrong, you have to look carefully at everything they do to find the wrong stuff.

        • Re:I would take (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @02:03PM (#29368853)

          Because nice people that are always wrong aren't necessarily doormats. They champion their opinions to whoever makes decisions, and that becomes the plan of record. Anyone not supporting the plan of record has a lot to answer for come end-of-year review time. Even if what he was doing turned out to be correct. Most organizations get very upset with engineers/developers/"IT Pros"/geeks who decouple from the hive mind, even if they are correct. Management will wonder why, if you knew it was wrong, you didn't bring this up and save a lot of time and money doing it right in the first place. When teamwork counts, one person can't do all the work, thus it's critical to support the people that know their shit.

          My current team has a belief that if we keep around one or two nice dummies that the team is more cohesive and works better, even though they are always ignored. But that doesn't work either, they're usually plenty smart enough to know they're being ignored and they tend to leave. Management attempts to correct for this by lecturing us on proper social behavior, which of course no one gets. So at the end of the day the painfully right person ends up "in control" (i.e. in a place where he can do real harm to morale) while the nice people tend to go somewhere they are wanted, often marketing.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Management will wonder why, if you knew it was wrong, you didn't bring this up and save a lot of time and money doing it right in the first place.

            Simple answer: I got tired of lousy reviews for 'being combative' and trying to bring things up. Either listen to my advice or don't complain when things explode.

            • Ah yes, (Score:3, Funny)

              by Falconhell ( 1289630 )

              You follow the sysadmin oath then eh?

              I am hired because I know what I am doing, not because I will do whatever I am told is a good idea.

              This might cost me bonuses, raises, promotions, and may even label me as âoeundesirableâ by places I donâ(TM)t want to work at anyway, but I donâ(TM)t care.

              I will not compromise my own principles and judgement without putting up a fight.


    • The problem is when we encounter a jerk who's always wrong. And it's usually the owner of the company >.<

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArsonSmith ( 13997 )

        If he's always wrong then you better find a new job. The company will go out of business soon.

        Or do you just not understand how business actually works and instead just have some academic outlook on it and he does things right but different from your viewpoint.

        If you have all the answers why not go start your own business and run him out.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Opportunist ( 166417 )

          Unfortunately, no. Today, it's no so much whether you're right or wrong, or whether you make the right business decisions. It's who you play golf with.

          So unless you play golf with more important people, don't try to open your own business. Even if you're better.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cyphercell ( 843398 )

          The belief that running a business is synonymous with having a good product or providing a decent service is the great flaw in capitalism.

          They are correlated, but not directly. There are many variables that affect a good business. If a business person is good at business, but isn't all that great at serving the core product, or knows enough about serving the core product to hire up from his/her own talents, then they ought to learn how to recognize the difference between change for the sake of change and ch

    • I prefer the person that is bearable and can learn competently.

      There are few true geniuses in the world. The vast majority of people who have an chip on their shoulder probably wouldn't be a good team player anyway... and even if they are above average, with that type of attitude, probably would leave disaster in their wake when they leave - even if it's as simple and seemingly harmless thing as lack of documentation of what they were doing or making.

  • Just IT people? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRealPacmanJones ( 1600187 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:16PM (#29367129)
    I am an accountant and I know I have always preferred people who did their job well but I may not have liked that much. You can work around personality differences but you cant work around someone being stupid.
    • by Monoman ( 8745 )

      Obligatory - There is no fix for stupid.

    • Exactly. It works in almost every aspect of life. I worked in a sales environment for about a month and I can tell you, the guys who are great at sales, tend to be real assholes. But you know why they have a job? They're GREAT at it.

      Even a receptionist can be a little snarky if she is so fluid with the paperwork that she can do more than is expected of her.

    • by Moryath ( 553296 )

      Precisely. You can come to an agreement not to deal with someone face-to-face if their demeanor rubs you the wrong way. You can put a "buffer" person between yourselves, even. On the other hand, when your organization has some dumbass who is not only failing to do their job but requiring other people to come behind and fix the mistakes or clean up the messes, you have a major problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Culture20 ( 968837 )
      I don't know; If someone was competent, but enough of an asshole to sabatoge my work, I'd not be able to work around that, but I'd gladly pick up the slack for a slower (but nice) coworker.
  • by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) <> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:19PM (#29367173) Journal

    Yes, this is why we put the liberal art majors in their own building.

    • by hombrejava ( 875247 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:24PM (#29367251)
      I work at a national lab. We work with large number of students every summer. Some are smart, some are very weird, some are nice, some are not. Guess who gets to come back next summer? The smart ones who come to work every day and are productive. Nice doesn't work. I've worked with some stupid nice students, and all I do is damage control.
    • by JCSoRocks ( 1142053 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:32PM (#29367371)
      Saying, "I told you so," isn't nearly as much fun when you have to clean up the mess. It's always the smart guy that ends up paying the price when the dumb guy / management screw up. Who stays late and fixes the code / saves the server when things break? The guy that knows what he's doing. He may feel like a hero afterward but mostly he just feels pissed off that he had to do it at all.

      I can't count the number of times I've wondered why I'm in a meeting or why I've been consulted at all. If you aren't going to respect my opinion, you needn't bother asking. It only makes it that much more depressing when I have to clean up your mess later without so much as a, "yeah, I guess you were right."
      • and that's why we're jerks.

      • by Atrox666 ( 957601 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:10PM (#29367967)

        %100 percent our fault as geeks.
        Geeks give away their power. We work for corporations or consult for them when they are not interested in any of our goals or values. Geeks are always bending over, spreading their ass cheeks and whining about getting fucked.
        They have superior intelligence (generally) but shy away from running things or accepting authority.
        What geeks generally don't get is that when you throw up your hands at a people/leadership oriented task you look as stupid as the people you (rightfully)deride for throwing up their hands at the slightest computer issue. When you back off from business tasks and say "I don't do that I'm a techie" you look as silly as a person who has an Outlook problem and says "I'm not a techie I don't do that"
        How many IT departments in non IT companies can actually say that they are treated like a part of the business and not just like an irritating expense.

      • by bjourne ( 1034822 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @02:39PM (#29369377) Homepage Journal

        Well if work is depressing then there is something wrong with it. I suggest you fix your attitude because caring so much about it that you get depressed is not healthy.

        At my work, I'm also usually right. As I'm sure most techies reading /. often are. People have this peculiar habit of interrupting me when discussing to make my argument appear weaker than it is. I let them, because I'm a soft-spoken guy and I really don't care that much. A month or two later, my predictions come true and we do it my way instead which I initially suggested. I don't tell people "I told you so" because I don't need the acknowledgement. My reward is the salary, their reward is that they get to borrow my brain for 8 hours/day. If they wish to spend my 8 hours on futile, dead end projects then so be it. There is no reason for me to get emotionally involved.

        I read a study (in a tabloid, but still) about that most people prefer to work with nice failure persons rather than excellent jerks. That shows how fucked up many of us techies priorities are. We prefer what is best for the company rather than enjoying the time we spend at work. Self-sacrifice is not a virtue, it is the losers mind set.

        I'd recommend every techie to work as a consultant at least for a year or two. Because when you do, you learn that your life is not tied to the company's bottom line. Problems and stupid managers aren't frustrating anymore. The more stupidity and bad decisions, the more billable hours you can charge them. Stupid techies work overtime to clean up the mess, smart techies bleed them dry while doing it. :)

        • by greyhueofdoubt ( 1159527 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @04:57PM (#29371587) Homepage Journal

          If they wish to spend my 8 hours on futile, dead end projects then so be it.

          I couldn't disagree more. I enjoy my job- I get personal satisfaction out of what I do. I'm proud of what I do.

          I don't think I could live with myself knowing that I spent 9 hours on something completely useless and wrong. Even if the job is difficult or unpleasant, it's still important for me to know that it is worthwhile in some way.

          I've worked with one or two people with your viewpoint (would count blades of grass all day as long as they were getting paid). It's a viewpoint that is utterly alien to me. Does it affect your personal relationships, too, or are you able to compartmentalize so well that you're two different people each day?


    • Yes, this is why we put the liberal art majors in their own building.

      This is also why engineering and comp. sci have their own buildings.

      And administration, and food services, and maintenance, and bio-chem, and ... etc. etc. etc.

  • A jerk might be a Jerk but if he's a reliable jerk I'll take him over someone who's really nice but often makes mistakes. I always feel like niceness is their way of compensating for absolutely sucking. It's a survival mechanism when you're a failure. Give me a Jerk whom I can count on to get the work done well over a nice failure. After all it's work and we aren't there to be nice to each other.
    • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:25PM (#29367275)

      Unless the nice but makes mistakes person causes *me* a lot of extra work, I'd take nice. I'm at work because the makeup of society forces me to be, not because I want to. Might as well make it as enjoyable as possible.

      Now if his failures come rebounding onto me, then he can be a liability. Luckily life isn't usually a comparison of extremes- you can get someone who's competent and easy to get along with most of the time.

    • I always feel like niceness is their way of compensating for absolutely sucking. It's a survival mechanism when you're a failure.

      I'm so going to lose karma for this, but... you mean the way fat chicks always have a 'nice personality' while the hot ones are often bitches? If you're very desirable for *ahem* functional reasons, you don't have to cultivate 'niceness' in order to be sought after.

    • I always feel like niceness is their way of compensating for absolutely sucking

      Sounds like someone had a bad experience as a child. Do you surround yourself with idiots and abrasive personalities? The people I generally spend my time with are generally nice people. Maybe you should try to find someone nice who'll spend time with you. You might change your mind.

  • "Wrong is evil, and it must be defeated. Capacity for technical reasoning trumps all other professional factors, period."

    A pity that most of management aren't geeks and thus the only thing you're really hurting is your own reputation and your coworkers by acting that way. You'll be ten times more effective at getting the right thing to happen if you can put a little bit of sugar on your requests. Also, since IT is a support role in most organizations, being able to talk to them without making them feel stupid for doing so is a definite plus when you'll need their approval.

  • Not me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Korbeau ( 913903 )

    Since I'm always right I prefer to work with nice persons without initiative that are gullible to my points of view and always smile.

    (ergo I'm a self-confident a-hole and you would like to work with me !:)

    • Since I'm always right I prefer to work with nice persons without initiative that are gullible to my points of view and always smile.

      Well, I prefer to work with self-confident a-holes who think I want to work with them, but are actually rather myopic and don't understand that I'm going to free-ride my way into management and blame them if things go wrong.

      At least when I know they're an a-hole, it doesn't make me feel so bad stepping on them on the way up.

  • True; but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:22PM (#29367223) Journal
    This is largely true; but the problem is with the (fairly sizable) population of people who are neither nice nor competent; but are arrogant enough to think that they are.

    If somebody is kind of useless; but nice, they'll at least roll over after fucking up. If somebody is an arrogant dickhead, they'll fuck up and be personally offended at any attempt to do things properly.
    • Re:True; but... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:42PM (#29367537) Homepage

      Well I'd put the problem more generally as: people don't divide cleanly into "nice people who are always wrong" and "jerks who are always right". Jerks are often the people who *think* they're always right, but often are wrong quite a lot. "Nice people" are sometimes secretly jerks who think they're always right, and the niceness is just a form of condescension. But no one is right all the time, and a lot of times there really isn't even a "right answer" so much as "the best answer we can come up with right now."

      A lot of it really ends up being a matter of degrees. Would I tolerate a little bit of assholishness for some real brilliance? Sure. But after a certain point, you can be too much of an asshole to be worth it. Along with everything else, being actually often means you *aren't* right. If you're causing interpersonal problems on a team, creating more work for everyone else, and making everyone else hate working with you, then you're kind of doing the wrong things.

      Plus, there are enough people out there who are competent and at least decently nice. It's not really a choice you have to make all the time.

      • Jerks are often the people who *think* they're always right, but often are wrong quite a lot.

        Yup. Most jerks I know believe that there is only one right way to do things - their way.

  • Best quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) * on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:23PM (#29367235)
    From TFA:

    IT pros are sensitive to logic -- that's what you pay them for. When things don't add up, they are prone to express their opinions on the matter, and the level of response will be proportional to the absurdity of the event.

    If only I could get my current manager to understand that. Perhaps then he'd understand why our department reacts the way it does to policies handed down from the parent organization.

    I thought the article was basically ego-stroking but at the same time, most of it was spot-on. Why is it that so many writers understand this stuff, while so many IT management organizations do not?

    • Why is it that so many writers understand this stuff, while so many IT management organizations do not?

      Because IT management organizations have to get things done in a larger world, where narrow focus on technical solutions is not the sole factor under consideration.

      Want to work in a business environment? That means that sales is king. You may support sales, you may even support your customers, but driving business through the door is the most privileged role. Those customers won't, for the most part, want an arrogant prick who's always right; they'll want an accommodating, amiable fellow who's right more

      • Re:Best quote (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) * on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @02:01PM (#29368823)

        Want to work in a business environment? That means that sales is king. You may support sales, you may even support your customers, but driving business through the door is the most privileged role. Those customers won't, for the most part, want an arrogant prick who's always right; they'll want an accommodating, amiable fellow who's right more than half the time.

        You're absolutely correct that sales is king. No dispute, there. A business has to have income in order to survive.

        What I do think is wrong, however, is that management oftentimes downplays or ignores IT's recommendations in an effort to chase the short-term sale. As the original article pointed out, "IT Pros" typically don't make recommendations that are without merit. A business that sells an IT-based product (for instance) should listen closely to the people creating that product, but that doesn't seem to happen often enough. A development or architecture team will lay out an optimal plan for producing a product, but the business side will force everyone down a different path in order to meet arbitrary release dates, please one big customer, or meet some goal sitting on a vice-president's last review. The final product winds up being something no one is happy with, and that causes problems down the road for everyone.

        So no, a narrow focus on technical solutions is not the right way to go about things. But neither is chasing potential income while eroding your technical base.

    • So I wasn't out of line when I wanted to vomit at, "Can't we just put it on the cloud?" Christ, it was like a Dilbert strip. One meeting every 3 or 4 years is plenty for me, thanks.

      • So I wasn't out of line when I wanted to vomit at, "Can't we just put it on the cloud?" Christ, it was like a Dilbert strip. One meeting every 3 or 4 years is plenty for me, thanks.

        Who is more valuable? The geek who has to fight the urge to vomit when his boss asks him a technical question, or the geek who can ask intelligent questions to determine the manager's true needs and then explain why the cloud is not a good solution?

  • by Starker_Kull ( 896770 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:24PM (#29367255)
    ... (shakes head) ...

    Sounds great. Let me know how that goes, okay? Tell me when the war is over, and teh stupid is vanquished. I'll hang a banner for you.

    People with this attitude will have a hard time working with anyone outside of a very small group of very competent people; i.e. in the real world. Most people really aren't experts, they aren't always right, they frequently make mistakes.... but they are not evil. I try to reserve the word 'evil' for people who seek to hurt others for fun.

    If all you have a choice of is 'competent' or 'nice', I suppose I would temporarily choose 'competent'. I would then seek to find a little more of BOTH in one human.
    • There's a difference between "makes mistakes from time to time" (as all people do) and "can't figure out how to check email without bringing down the network, deleting half of the files from the shared network drive, and blames it all on the evil computer / IT guy".

      Unfortunately, I've worked with way too many of the latter who blame me because they're too stupid to even be allowed within 100 yards of a computer. Here's the real kicker with it too - they're engineers.....

    • Let me tell you a story of our ancestors. Ape A, Ape B and Ape C.
      Ape A is highly motivated, intelligent and independent.
      Ape B fell out of the tree on its head. He is lazy, stupid and generally useless.
      Ape A and his descendants get through life on their own hard work and ingenuity.
      Ape B only makes it through life by getting A type apes to do things they are too useless to do themselves(which is pretty much everything)
      Fast forward a few dozen generations of natural selection. The B type apes have adapted all

  • Can't happen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ISurfTooMuch ( 1010305 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:24PM (#29367257)

    This is a situation that usually can't happen. The reason is that jerks are very often wrong, but, because of their personality type, they won't admit it. Even if a nice guy is wrong, he will more often than not own up to his mistakes instead of charging blindly ahead.

    And I don't think being a nice guy and being competent is some rare thing. In my experience, people who are extremely competent have nothing to prove and are therefore pretty easygoing. The jerks are usually the ones who don't know shit but want to make everyone think they do. They're the ones who kiss their superiors' asses and have them believing they know what they're doing. They also belittle their underlings, who are often the ones who actually do the work.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by JumpDrive ( 1437895 )
      Shit , you work at the same place I do.
      • Yep, I'm the guy down in the basement doing two jobs, one of which involves trying to figure out why, with all the computers I bought earlier this year, some of them seem to have all the software issues. Hmm, or is it the user that's the variable. And I'm the one who's getting ready to do battle with Dell support about a computer I thought they fixed a few months ago that just developed the very same instability problems.

        And I don't get paid enough, and I have no window, but I have one hell of an Internet

      • So your the guy who I always hear typing up a storm here. Guys stand up and look toward the end of the row , I work here too....

        Wait no one stood up. There must be a shit load of places like this.

    • It is even more fundamental than that. A jerk who is incapable of dealing with people as a boss is failing at the most important part of his job.

      He is flat out wrong in most of the things he does.

      The idea that a person like this can be always right is a logical fallacy.

    • An interesting problem is when you have a jerk-genius who is *occasionally* wrong but is used to being right all the time simply because they are very clever. Sometimes they don't seem to recognise the unfamiliar sensation of wrongness that some of us feel a bit more often ;-) Plenty of examples of this if you read the Daily WTF or even just the LKML!

    • I actually have known a couple guys who came pretty close. One of them was actually a former good friend of mine, until circumstances caused us to go our separate ways. (Long story, but among other issues, he got married to an older woman who was unbearable to be around for any length of time. I'm pretty sure she was on a "mission" to drive away all of his former techie friends....)

      In any case though, his "forte" was with computer security and hacking issues in general. He had a whole library of really

      • who valued his intelligence and knowledge, and could overlook his lack of tact in dealing with some people

        When I'm at work, I'm not paid to overlook a lack of tact. I'm paid to do a job, and when some loudmouthed genius starts pissing me off, I ignore him because there is no nice way to shut people up like that. No matter what they do, they get louder, and worse. Since I prefer to enjoy where I work, I'm forced to either shut up and deal (making work less enjoyable) or tell my boss that so-and-so is making my life difficult. It doesn't matter how smart he is, because if one person is making the rest of the t

  • by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:30PM (#29367335)

    It's usually the incompetent who feel the need to act like a jerk to distract everyone from their own performance.

    • Not necessarily, I find alot of peope who KNOW they're good at their job will act like they're better than everyone who works below them.

    • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )
      No. Think Dr. House.
      • Nobody ever told you the truth about Santa and the Easter Bunny either I assume.

  • This is news? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SoTerrified ( 660807 )
    If I have a co-worker who is competent, but a jerk... I can work with that. I might have to thicken my skin a bit, but in the long run, that's not asking much. I tend to view the office as the place I work, not the place I make friends. I have non-work friends who fill my social time very nicely, thank you so do your job and we'll get along. Whereas if I have a nice guy who isn't competent, he will cause me endless extra work and effort bailing him out and dealing with his mess-ups. I don't care if you
    • I work about the same amount regardless. If someone else on the team screws up then that impacts the overall productivity of team, which may affect my employer's bottom line, but it doesn't result in any more work on my part. Given that, I'd rather have the nice person. My employer, however, would almost surely rather have the competent asshole.
  • Ahem. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarrenBaker ( 322210 ) <darren@f[ ].net ['lim' in gap]> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @12:31PM (#29367367) Homepage

    1 + 1 = 2.
    Your mother.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lennier ( 44736 )

      Yo momma so associative, her Grothendieck group is isomorphic to Z for a bounded complex of finite dimensional vector spaces possessing the standard Euler characteristic.

  • by Zarrot ( 1149415 )
    I have worked with nice idiots and wanted to kill myself. Sweet woman but absolutely clueless and helpless, made my life hell and my job 3 times harder, it was a 2 person shop and she generated anti-work. I eventually just convinced them to fire me so I could get away. And on the other-side I have worked with extremely competent A-holes. It's great I don't need to be friends with all my colleagues. I much prefer those who get their work done, on time and correctly. I prefer to get my work done and leav
    • by cruff ( 171569 )

      I eventually just convinced them to fire me so I could get away.

      Why didn't you just quit? Seems like it would have been the easier thing to do?

      Best thing I did for my peace of mind was to stop logging in to the work systems on weekends unless I was specifically called about a problem.

  • by al0ha ( 1262684 )
    I always knew I wasn't a Geek! Woo-hoo! Let's here it for all the smart people who are now free from Geek stereotypes due to this article!
    • Yeah, I guess I'm not, either. If you can't be a decent person in the workplace, then you're going to be ineffective at teamwork, your leadership skills are poor, and you're unprofessional. Everybody gets it wrong sometimes, and having a viable social relationship is what lets people pick up and move on after that happens. If you're an asshole but you get it right 99% of the time, then your colleagues will just be waiting for that 1% opportunity, and when it comes, they'll hang you for it.

      Maybe there is

  • I am IT pro and massively geeky and having experienced both in my daily work/coaching I MUCH prefer someone who is nice and will listen than a knows-it-all with an attitude.

    Usually the know-it-all (a.k.a. "primadona") won't fit in a professional team, not because of its IT skills but his lack of social skills. A good team needs people with those 2 skills. It's much easier to improve someone's IT skills than his social skills...making the know-it-all a disruption for the business rather than an addition.


  • Obviously, people are going to prefer to work with somebody who's effective at their work than somebody who is always wrong and creates problems for other people. But it's not like there's a choice only between "Good at work but nasty" and "Bad at work but nice". There are people who are nasty and also mediocre at their jobs, there are pleasant people who are highly skilled. So you might just luck out and get a nice, skilled person (or, if your recruiting process is not good, the reverse). Also, it's r

  • ...who the idiots were who conceived of this study ;-)

    A person who is always wrong is completely useless. A person who is always right, but is a jerk, is useful, so of course you'd put up with him being a jerk. But in real life, no one is ever always right or always wrong. There are competent people and incompetent people, but even competent people make mistakes or are wrong from time to time. I'd rather deal with someone who is pleasant, and I'd rather deal with someone who is correct more often than n

  • I know. I know. I am not new here. But, people, please read the article; not just the summary. The ones agreeing with just the summary are a little brainless. The ones saying how wrong the summary is did not read the article.
    The article doesn't just talk about "jerk that's right" vs. "nice but wrong". It addresses managing the logical, geek, stupid sucks and makes my job harder mentality. Not that management will ever read this article and walk away willing to change anything.

  • *joke*

    I'm always right and I'm a big jerk, and yet nobody wants to listen to me until after the trainwreck. - I end up cleaning up the messes made by the "nice" people.

    But seriously, cleaning up the messes made by anyone, nice or jerk, tends to make one into a jerk. Nice, competent people often become less competent jerks when they are used as a "fix all" for everyone else's screw-ups.
  • I prefer to work for human beings, who are wrong sometimes and can admit it. I try and present that image to my employees as well. It's OK to be wrong sometimes. It's OK to not know the answer. The good people will admit that and try to figure out the answer. The jerks blame someone else or quickly change the topic.

    I don't understand why these two things are mutually exclusive. I have found that often times the most competent people aren't the ones who think they know everything, it's the ones who are

  • I'd rather that my cow-orkers posses some modicum of social skills in addition to technical. Some quantity of both make everyone's job a whole lot easier.

    But it all depends on how you define 'nice'. All too often, it takes a bit of assertiveness to stand up for the correct technical solution in the face of 'team spirit' or the idea that you've got to 'go along to get along'. In many businesses, where the 'correct' solution can often be subjective or open to interpretation, this culture works. But in techni

  • I'm having trouble understanding why 'smart' and 'nice' (whatever that means in this context) are mutually exclusive.

    Being smart doesn't mean you have to be a self absorbed ass. Standing up for the correct technical decision doesn't mean you have to be rude.

  • by pablodiazgutierrez ( 756813 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:13PM (#29368017) Homepage

    Although my place of work is generally full of competent people, my girlfriend's isn't, and while it is frustrating for her, it provides a constant inflow of amusement when I hear her evening updates. The last one involved a girl walking out of the room because she was pissed off at the two other girls working with her. My girlfriend asked her what's wrong, and it went on like:

    - Oh, there was too much tentonton.
    - Uhmm... tentonton?
    - Yeah, you know, too many girls.
    - Uhmm... do you mean testosterone?
    - Yeah, that.
    - But that's a male hormone.
    - Whatever, the female one.

    Tentonton. And the best is that this is not exceptional.

  • by ( 245670 ) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:14PM (#29368051)

    The first level of filtering is to remove incompetence. If a person can't do the job, they're out. Personality, odor, presentation, etc. mean nothing at this point. If that initial filter means the only remaining candidates are smelly jerks then make sure your office has positive air pressure and a door that locks.

    If that initial filter leaves you with some NICE people who are also competent, then you filter out the jerks. If you still have choices left, filter out the smell. If you still have choices left, filter out the people who dress like they're homeless.

    It doesn't mean that I LIKE jerks. It means that personality is secondary to competence. And there are plenty of nice people who are also competent. But nice people who can't do the job aren't even considered.

  • I'm not going to work for people who are either jerks or incompetent, and I'm certainly not going to let people like that work for me.

    There actually are pleasant, smart, capable people out there in tech jobs and tech management.

  • A few years ago, I went to work for a start-up run by a Doctor who turned out to a true weasel, and who is still trying to clip the dev team out of any ownership in the software we wrote over 4 years. As a learning experience, it was good to know these people are not just theories, but as a practical life experience it sucks balls. How you ask? Well I develop radiology workstations for a living, and until you havea product, you have no product. Since we were a startup, we kept getting excuses about law

  • House (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neoform ( 551705 ) <> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @03:22PM (#29370095) Homepage
    Isn't this the very premise of House MD?

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter