So, it’s Tuesday and its that time again for T-SQL Tuesday. We’re at the 44th entry which means it’s been about 3.7 years since this blog party began, by SQL MVP extraordinaire, Adam Machanic (@AdamMachanic| Blog). I guess us SQL People can’t stop partying!
Now I tell you the truth when I glanced last week, and saw Bradley Balls, aka SQLBalls, post, and said, damn that’s a pretty neat topic, and darnit I missed it! So, what was the topic I missed? Second Chances! LOL. I kid you not that the fact I’m even writing this blog, is a Second Chance in itself. I’d like to thank the tweet I saw by Jes Schultz Borland, aka @grrl_geek, and Jorge Serra, aka @SQLChicken, by reminding us that T-Tuesday #44, is happening on July 9, 2013! Seems I need to set up an automatic reminder, so I don’t get caught by the SQLBalls! Ha! So, here I am, thankful for second chances.
This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Bradly Ball (blog | twitter) and the topic is second chances. If you've done something in your career by mistake, or something you did wrong, would you like the chance to do it all again? Tell me, would we? Could we? Meeemories, light the corner of my mind....Uh, yes, today, is our second chance, thanks to Mr. Balls, our host for this timely topic. Thank you, Brad for your awesome contribution!
Technical skills are easily learned from any age. Sometimes it comes naturally; sometimes you gradually build your skillset over time. There are other skills that must be acquired as well, otherwise you can land yourself in some bit of trouble.
As you go through your career, you learn from mistakes, and grow from experience, and mature into a well-rounded professional individual capable of making rational choices and decisions.
Far from a righteous hot-headed DBA at any point in my career, I was usually a cool-headed rational DBA. However, I was new to the corporate world, and my college years were still viewable in the rear-view mirror, when I started working for a dynamic young software company. I always believed in standing up for what’s right, and standing your ground when you know what’s right.
Sometimes, though you need to pick and choose your battles, and not necessarily broadcast your opinions in an ocean of varying ones. The primary form of communication back in the advent of technology companies was, and still is today, email. This was before the even more instant forms of communication like texting, tweeting and instant messaging.
The biggest lesson that I learned and is still valid today, is always think through what you are putting in writing, and this is even more so when composing email. I urge everyone here today to resist the temptation of email evils, and the visceral need to instantly reply in a situation that could possibly be a heated exchange. (Not Microsoft Exchange, but back and forth between two or more parties :-)
Always remember, that despite the “Recall” button that you have on your option tray in Outlook, for all intents and purposes, once you click the “Send” button, and of course, the outbox is emptied, the email is sent, and out there for good. You cannot take back what you may have written in an email. Even a carefully and humbly worded apology may not suffice!
Another important thing to be aware of, in this technical world of email compliance and legal litigation, all, if not most, corporate emails are monitored, backed up and archived. Unless you know someone in the Exchange Admin group, ok, just kidding, I’m not advocating email tampering:-O. Just be aware that what you say and write, can and will be used against you in a FISA court, I mean in an HR matter. Even worse, it could legally come back to haunt you, if anything considered confidential corporate data is leaked or sent to an unknown recipient. (Intentional or not!)
Moreover, when dealing with emails and the written word, you have to make sure that tone is well understood by the other party. Words themselves have no emotions (I guess that’s why they invented the emoticon :-) Unless you know for sure the personality of the sender, it can often be difficult to understand the meaning and intent of the email. Sarcasm, screaming (NO CAPS!!), satire, even well-meaning monologues, will many times be misinterpreted by the recipient. The same email sent to 3 different people, will get 4 different translations!
Fortunately, the tale I’m about to tell, was nothing more than a childish exchange, that led to a disciplinary warning, and of course regret, that an otherwise successful run at this company was somewhat ruined by this silly and unfortunate email.
It was a dark and stormy day. Ok it was actually bright and sunny outside, but who knew, I was stuck in a artificially lit cubicle. Some knuckle head was attempting to lay blame on the database, and the person that managed them. That would be me. He sneakily told the client that it was all my fault, and the issue was the database. (Sound familiar?). So, the client taking his word escalated it to the managers. I was called into the office to explain. Explained well I did, and even offered proof that the issue was not in my ball court. That was fine.
However, when I got back to my desk, steaming mad, I fired off a biting sarcastic email to the person that laid the blame. Take that! Ha, and I have proof you incompetent fool! “You sir, are an ingrate!” Etc. Etc. Yep, put all those thoughts down in writing! Oh, and just for good measure, I cc’d all those involved to expose the fraud that cursed my name in vain. OOPS! Just in case I didn’t get everyone on the list, the slimy operative he was, made sure that his managers and my managers saw it.
I wish I had a Second Chance there! I certainly would have handled it differently. I was called out by the President of the Company, yes the top of chain. As I sat in his nice 500 square foot office, with leather furniture and neat rugs, I thought, well at least I can see the outside from his 180 degree window view.
This was not a social call, but an official warning to cease and desist. He told me, and probably correctly so, “the moment I have to waste my time to focus on Robert (his name was Robert too :-O) , right or wrong, is time away from focusing on the company’s business.” He warned that if this happens again, well, I wouldn’t be seeing him again in his office.
He agreed with me in principle about the issue at hand, and that the other guy would be disciplined as well, but I soured the argument with my blast email. And so, lesson learned the hard way, that before you send that email, always think it through first, and think it through a dozen more times. Especially in the heat of an argument, you need to put some distance between yourself and your keyboard!
My advice is simple. Always write the email and save it in the Draft folder. Or better yet, compose the email in Word (to avoid the trigger finger effect) – you can always copy and paste the final email to send. When you are upset or angry about a matter, it is best to get up, take a break, walk away, and then come back with a whole new perspective. You will often find that either, the matter is resolved, or you’re just not that upset anymore.
Also, less is more. The more you write, the more you’re likely to get yourself in trouble. Always answer the question directly, and ask some questions if you’re not sure what the sender intended to say.
I’ve practice the above techniques ever since (not saying perfectly), but it has helped me in my career immensely. Often times, I draft a long real nasty biting and witty, if I do say, email and NEVER send it! That’s right. It makes you feel good to get it out of your head, but don’t let it out of your inbox! You don’t always get Second Chances!
One more thing, here are the rules of TSQL Tuesday posting - get it right, because you won't have a second chance this month ;-)
Rule 1: Don’t get yourself fired. If you almost dropped the prod DB last week, truncated an important table, or took down a prod server during critical business hours, and nobody knows it was you & the people you work for read your blog, you should probably avoid writing about it here. You want to write about events we can look back on and reflect over, not events HR would *love* to know about.