Remembering a Mentor

Yesterday I had to say my final goodbye to a mentor. He served as a professor during my time at VCU and I feel deeply saddened that I didn’t get to have one last insightful conversation with him.

To honor him I wanted to share my favorite lesson from him: listening deeply.

Dr. Primeaux was regarded as a great friend and a superior conversationalist. We would talk for hours regardless of the topic: genetic algorithms, Vols football, and student politics.

When we challenged him as students if he didn’t have the answer right away, he would pause, cross his arms, and close his eyes as if meditating to find the answer. You could tell he was considering all the aspects of the question and formulating a strong response. After he had taken enough time to find a suitable answer he would open his eyes and deliver it to us. His responses were always deeply informative.

As developers this ‘soft’ skill of listening and responding appropriately is often overlooked. We solve problems. This is what we are paid to do and we want to get to a solution right away. But something we often forget is to consider all the aspects of the question or problem.

Do you sometimes misunderstand requirements from a client/manager or bump heads with a colleague concerning their solution?

Try taking your time and listening deeply before providing your response. The recipient will more often than not be appreciative of your insightfulness, I know I was.