I've often expressed negative reactions to suggestions of group working sessions and pair programming. I'm not happy with the manner in which I find myself doing this.
Since I feel like I just did it again in our team retrospective, I thought it would be worth trying to unpack it more directly.
Lately, I've been trying to give more attention to my mental health. On a workaday basis, I think I'm decently functional. But, there are a few troublesome spots in my psychological bad sector map.
Pair programming and intensive group work fall squarely into these bad sectors.
I can do meetings, discussions, demos, and presentations. It's uncomfortable (see: social anxiety), but I can manage it.
But, dealing with people seems to consume the brain power I use for deep thinking & comprehension - which are the things I use most in building software & learning.
It's like I can't have those two areas of my brain powered up at the same time. I experience anxiety & exhaustion when I try. If I push really hard, I can stumble through. But, I feel less than effective. I don't definitely don't feel enjoyment or reward.
So, solo heads-down work followed by group review & discussion is where I'm happiest. Different modes at different times.
Also, I need to go off and read the docs. Someone can spend 30 minutes explaining something to me in great verbal detail. But, it will fall right out of my head like a coarse sieve. Then, I'll still need to spend 30 minutes of quiet reading to catch up. This is a source of frustration for me.
I suspect my difficulty with verbal comprehension is similar to when I can rarely remember someone's name when they introduce themselves to me at a party - only on a much larger scale. (Maybe a combo of social anxiety and short-term memory & attention glitches from ADHD?)
Anyway, I think that's the source of my reactions when pair programming surfaces as a topic. Rather than express fear directly, I often couch it in abstract arguments. But, honestly, I think it's my personal issue.
If more group work sessions and pair programming are things we decide make us more effective as a team, I will do my best to work that way. As a professional adult, I recognize that work can take me out of my comfort zone. Maybe someday a load-bearing wall in my psychology will shift.
I'm also hoping that by laying this out, I can convince myself to ease off reactions because I've opened up about the underlying concern. Other folks seem to enjoy working in shared sessions, so I don't think it's a helpful contribution for me to repeatedly resist the concept in general.
But, I think I can say that it doesn't work for me. I just feel bad asserting that boundary when lots of other folks seem to be having a fine time and I'm the odd one out spewing stop energy.
- Mob programming sounds like a nightmare
- "Now you’re programming with something like half a brain and putting everything you type through the world’s most pessimistic linter at the same time."
- "Pair programming works for specific people, for others it's an exercise in anxiety."
- This is the kind of abstract process argument I come up with when I'm avoiding expressing my own fear & anxiety. To be fair, for folks who are effective at pairing, I don't think this is the issue.
- "No, I can be an anxious person sometimes. I have strategies to manage it most of the time; I’ve just identified this area as a trigger that I’m having trouble with."