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The Scary DBA

I have twenty+ years experience in IT. That time was spent in technical support, development and database administration. I work forRed Gate Software as a Product Evangelist. I write articles for publication at SQL Server Central, Simple-Talk, PASS Book Reviews and SQL Server Standard. I have published two books, ”Understanding SQL Server Execution Plans” and “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled.” I’m one of the founding officers of the Southern New England SQL Server Users Group and its current president. I also work on part-time, short-term, off-site consulting contracts. In 2009 and 2010 I was awarded as a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. In the past I’ve been called rough, intimidating and scary. To which I usually reply, “Good.” You can contact me through grant -at- scarydba dot kom (unobfuscate as necessary).

What is Your Greatest Weakness


I was tagged earlier this week by Tim Ford to comment on my biggest weakness. I wish I could say that it’s the color yellow (stupidest weakness, ever), or kryptonite. I don’t have to wear ruby-quartz glasses everywhere (and good thing too). Certainly getting tied up by a man isn’t my weakness (eeewww). And while I do agree that with great power comes great responsibility, I don’t feel responsible for everything. I’m not suffering from a terminal heart condition (or shards of metal in my blood stream). So, I’ve avoided all the obvious (or silly) weaknesses. No, unfortunately, my weaknesses, and they are myriad, varied, and far too numerous, are pretty much of the straight human variety, despite my rather obviously being a mutant. Trying to pick one that stands out, it almost depends on the hour of the day, from the hundreds & thousands there are to choose from, is tough. The one weakness that does immediately come to mind though is communication and communication style.

I don’t have Asburger’s, I think. I  tend to speak directly and bluntly. That’s when I speak at all. With effort I can be personable and friendly and, on rare occasions, charming. But it’s an effort. I have to try, and I have to keep thinking about talking to people, it’s a struggle and it shows. Left alone, left to my own devices, I stop talking or I only blurt out stuff occasionally or I try to run conversations, talking over people. It’s tough. The interruptions especially get people upset.

The obvious shortcomings of poor communication aren’t even what bothers me about it the most. The one thing that I think hurts me, and makes this truly a major weakness, is that I make people angry, but I do it unintentionally. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind making people angry. I’ve even gone out of my way to do get certain individuals good and upset. It’s when I do it accidently, because I’ve interrupted or because I’ve blurted out that their pet theory, whatever it might be, is stupid, that really hurts, me and that person. The fact is, what they’re saying may very well be stupid, but people don’t appreciate getting told that, especially in such a blunt manner. If you make people angry, they remember that. They don’t remember that you did help fix their problem, or that you saved the company oodles of cash or that you kept the project afloat. Nope, they remember that you really made them mad, which means that you’re “hard to work with.”

I’ve been working on this, a lot, over the years. Some of you who have met me out at conferences or at user group meetings might never have noticed this behavior. That’s because I’m using all that communication time to try to work on it. Some of you at those same functions may have been all too aware of it. I really have gotten pretty good at staying “on” and communicating at least reasonably well for long periods of time, but it’s bloody tiring.

My version of kryptonite is now on the table. Let’s see who has trouble with materials made out of wood, the color yellow, or gets weak when tied up by men. How about I tag, oh, Mike Walsh (I’ll bet it’s that tieing up thing) and Gail Shaw (probably red kryptonite).

Comments

Posted by Steve Jones on 16 December 2009

I've yet to see you get anyone angry, but I can certainly understand that. I too, tend to say what I think about a situation, sometimes to the detriment of my point.

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 16 December 2009

You haven't tried to do something blindingly stupid to a database that is going to cause me to get paged at 3AM when your grossly ignorant idea fails spectactularly, that's why.... kidding.

Actually, I've tried, instead of belittling these ideas as they come by, simply handing people my phone and suggesting that they deal with the problem when it occurs. That doesn't seem to make them any happier than my calling the idea stupid. This whole communication thing is difficult.

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