Hi, I'm TheWellSpokenDev, #AMA!

The Well Spoken Dev on April 20, 2019

Hi! I'm TheWellSpokenDev and I like to share my experiences about being a better communicator with developers who struggle to find their voice in... [Read Full]
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Crazy spouses? How about something similar. Like being trapped in a relationship with someone who employs his/her entire family (immediate) to gaslight you? I need help, if you can help me. Counselors and police are doing what they can. But I still need more de-isolation.

My quick story here

 

Hello jonw!

Let's approach this practically. First of all, the only person who can create complete isolation in your life is you. That sounds cliche` but look at it this way:

1) Do you live with your significant other?

  • Yes: Start making time and space for you to leave the house. Meetup.com is a fantastic place to find thousands of small pockets of individuals who share your interests where you can find safe places to share ideas, find inspiration, and build your self-confidence.

If your significant other is against this, do it anyway. This can be especially rough, if your significant other is trying to psychologically and emotionally control you. Start slowly, but finding a safe space to be comfortable in your own skin is extremely important.

  • No: Same answer, plus: reduce the amount of direct contact you have with your significant other and their family. They may find this offensive, but you need to make sure they are aware that your home is your personal space and they have no right to it until they are paying the bills. In fact, back to an earlier point, if they are trying to control you and your life, it is extremely important to set boundaries and create a safe space for yourself.

Tell them this: I just need some HEADSPACE. - Oh by the way, headspace.com is also FANTASTIC for meditation which you are OBLIGATED to try. It will change your life.

  • Side note: if you have additional family members living your house, especially if you are primarily responsible for paying the bills, you need to lay down some rules on what you will and will not tolerate. It may start as small as who's responsible for the trash and when. These small things build up to confidence to addressing the larger more pressing issues, like berating comments and offensive language.

2) Make sure your finances are completely separate.

I mean COMPLETELY. You are not married, therefore you have no obligation to share that part of your life with your significant other. This only provides additional leverage to take control of your life.

If they are not currently separate, there is nothing stopping you from opening separate bank accounts (with different banks if necessary) and keeping your money there. If they object, feel free to leave like.. $100... around just to keep them happy. Again, you need to remind them that your life is in your control, not theirs. Let them object if they want, your firmness to resist is your only weapon.

3) Stop attending every family function that comes up.

This is often the hardest thing to do, because you may now find yourself at the ire of the entire family (as you've already alluded to). Your firmness to resist is your only weapon. Make up whatever you excuse you need to - tight deadlines on a project (even if the project doesn't exist), a Meetup (or other function) you already planned to attend (hint! hint!), a contagious stomach virus, whatever it takes! Separating yourself from this family is going to be key to rebuilding your life.

4) It's become clear from what I've read in your story that just trying to talk to your significant other's family is going to be quite futile. But if indeed you would like to stick around, you need to be prepared to have answers to some difficult questions that you're inevitably going to face. You know what these questions are going to be better than I do. As they enter the back of your mind, feel free to write them down. I'm serious, journaling in the simplest form (like as simple as notes on Google Keep, for instance) can give you the additional confidence to know your answer before the question is asked, lay out all your reasoning (or excuses, if that's necessary!), and remember exactly why you needed this resolution to begin with.

5) If you're looking for challenging work to occupy your mind, try Guru.com, Freelancer.com, or even Meetup.com has great small and large developer groups that focus on every language and software niche you can imagine. You could try an Artificial Intelligence group and learn from some of the smartest people in the world!

Try a hackathon! Devpost has 1000's of hackathons year around that are fun, rewarding, and definitely challenging! If you win, there's CASH money rewards! Even if you don't win, take your project that you create and keep building on it. Make it better, give it a home, let others try it, find how to make it even more useful. It's now in your portfolio forever and no one can take that away from you.

Check out my Instagram (not a plug, I'm being serious) for more positive thoughts on how to become an extrovert. I've been bullied, I've been depressed, I really understand how difficult it can be to emerge from that fog. I literally just posted about imposter syndrome this morning.

instagram.com/thewellspokendev

The general resolution presented here is you need to get out of the house and surround yourself with people who understand you, your aspirations, and can help you build and network outside of your relationship. Overcoming isolation means you have to build a world for yourself aside from your relationship. Codependence is extremely toxic and you need to continually keep in the back of your mind that you are YOUR OWN PERSON. No one owns you, you are no one's property, NOBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO CONTROL YOU.

Hope some of this helps!!

-#TheWellSpokenDev

 

What a great write-up, and all that just for me! You really do care. You are the essence of DEV.io. You make the community here. I read every word, and every word is great advice. I respond to all parts of your write-up. You make DEV.io a home to me (and many others). I will return the favor for you forever. (Honestly, DEV.io should have a badge for real caring people like you.)

Do you live with your significant other? ... Separating yourself from this family is going to be key to rebuilding your life.

Yes. I actually recently (for the first time) mentioned I wanted to see other people (as friends, not for dating). That was when the current spate of abuse started. The separation (of 3 weeks now) has actually given me much peace and consolidation. She's not a bad person, just a childish and compulsive person. She might not actually be realizing her bad now; she thinks she's punishing me now.

Meetup.com is a fantastic place to find thousands of small pockets of individuals who share your interests where you can find safe places to share ideas

Found a group there. Learning Japanese formally finally, up to grad school use language proficiency. I will speak like an educated Japanese, finally.

make sure they are aware that your home is your personal space and they have no right to it until they are paying the bills ... if you are primarily responsible for paying the bills, you need to lay down some rules

We share the house.

With my father (another house), it was hell. I paid for the house, he abused me until he drove me out of the house. He had no right to it, but hell, his judicial system said he "wrote the book on math and logic" and I was plain wrong at every argument. I gave him the house, and cut ties. I did upgrade his front door security last year, but I stayed far far away throughout. He did pretend to be kind then, maybe cos he knew I wasn't actually gonna move back in.

Make sure your finances are completely separate.

Always.

Stop attending every family function that comes up.

For her immediate family, they actually almost stopped attending every extended family function. George's outburst and "hanging threat to expose me as a freeloader" had caused his parents constant consternation whenever family functions come up. They were never sure when I would accidentally reveal George's embarrassing outburst. That fear undoubtedly perpetuated their abuse of me, though.

you need to be prepared to have answers to some difficult questions that you're inevitably going to face ... journaling in the simplest form

Her immediate family and I had an account on Atlassian Confluence for a knowledge base. Even if it isn't active now, I still have a downloaded export of the entire knowledge base. I'm an open book to them. I guess maybe that's why they're still treating me like an enemy. I wonder if they will become more friendly if I assured them I destroyed all evidence of their squabbles and infractions (and if I then actually did destroy all evidence).

try Guru.com, Freelancer.com, or even Meetup.com has great small and large developer groups

I'll try Guru.com, Freelancer.com, etc. But I doubt it will take less than 4 years to build up a client base from scratch. Publishing some books on LeanPub.com might help.

Meetup.com seems to only conduct lectures and workshops, and not provide job opportunities. I'll still try networking there.

But believe me, Singapore is not the place for geeking out about technology competencies. I teach in local universities here, and students always ask me how they can become a CTO (or worse, CEO). They complain when I raise the curriculum to industry standard (dean said to lower it back down to "match student needs"). Newly minted engineers spend their office hours reading at their office desks --- "How to be a better CEO".

I want to code, I want to create. I don't want to flash a badge and make money by damaging young minds.

You could try an Artificial Intelligence group

I teach math (stats too) and algorithms. :-) I've done work on AI for years now, ranging from heuristics (near-optimality) to machine learning (classical training). I did say that Singapore is in awe and fear whenever they see folks doing technology work. Did I? Well, that's the fact here.

Try a hackathon! Devpost

Only for students. Need to be a registered student at some school here. Not sure why they need to ensure professional coders don't get into hackathons.

The general resolution presented here is you need to get out of the house and surround yourself with people who understand you ... build a world for yourself aside from your relationship.

Well, you are it. You're my world now. Thanks so much for writing up all that. I feel very cared for. You may not think much of your write-up, but it's a vital life-saver. It tells me that there's another human who also needs me to affirm defensive techniques against bullying. Together, we will find and practice effective defences against bullying.

You should DM me, I have a very interesting (and challenging......) project for you if you're interested. Cheers ๐Ÿ˜Š

You have to follow me first ๐Ÿ˜Ž
Then try clicking on the paper plane and see if you can find me...

 

Hi! I'm a recently hired Jr. Software Dev. One of the first things I was told by my Sr. Software Dev was to ask all of the questions in the world because there's going to be a lot that I don't know, and I've been following that advice. However, I do struggle with articulating certain problems that I run into while coding something new because I don't know how to phrase it all the time, and I'm scared to say the complete wrong phrase and sound stupid. Do you have any recommendations or advice?

 

Hi Ayja,

That's the essential beauty of learning, it's okay to sound like you don't know what you're doing, because well, you don't know what you're doing!

Here's some pro tips to asking questions you don't know the answer to:

I don't know how to unpeel a banana.

How do you eat a banana? - You peel it like this!
Is there a reason this banana is green and not yellow? - It's not ready to eat yet!

I don't understand repositories.

Where do I declare all my tables and schema? - In the DbContext.
How does the DbContext know how to connect to the database? - The connection string in the web.config tells you everything you need to know.
Why are there so many web.configs? - One for every environment of course!

The key to asking a dumb question is doing your best to fill out your knowledge as best you can of what you do know so that your question only attempts to fill in the gap of what you couldn't figure out on your own. Continue to quest and be thirsty for self taught knowledge but don't waste mounds of time when you've hit a roadblock when you could have just asked a simple question and had it answered right away. That's what mentors are there for.

Cheers!
-#TheWellSpokenDev

 

Wow, thank you so much! This is great advice and I'll be sure to follow it :)

 

Well after reading your intro on Medium, I kinda think we're similar in various aspects. One thing I wanna say is that I hear people ask 'how to be more extroverted?' and from my experience, one does not need to become 'extrovert' to communicate better. I'm still an introvert but a social and well-connected one ;)

 

Thanks for your comment Juan!

I completely agree with you! In fact, as I've shared with a few others, the word extrovert should be looked at more like a verb rather than an adjective or characteristic. Communication is something we do because we have to in order to live in this largely small world we live in. Nonetheless, when we get good and tired of dealing with people for the day there's almost always a safe place we can call home.

Cheers!
-#TheWellSpokenDev

 

You put in good words what have been going around my mind for some time already. Yes, indeed I've felt that when I've dealt with several people on the day and arrived exhausted to my home to the relief of doing 'introverted' 'nerd' stuff. hahaha

Cheers mate.

 

From my own experience, it's possible to vastly improve your communication skills with deliberate effort, just like most skills.

But I've also met introverts who believe that introversion is an immutable characteristic of their personality, sometimes to the point that they avoid taking on jobs/roles that involve more communication.

Do you think there's truth to that belief or is it a self-defeating attitude?

 

The use of the word immutable is such a strong term!

Here's my opinion: extroversion can be viewed as a skill, something you can use when you need it put it away when you don't. It does not by any means have to permeate or define your personality, but if an individual does value success, has career goals, or is looking for continued flexibility and freedom in their life and career, they're going to face this wall at some point.

They can draw what that door looks like, and by all means take baby steps!

I don't expect anyone who has a severe reservation for people to command meetings or presentations in a week, month, or even a year. But with all twelve step programs, the first step is admitting that there is a problem.

The problem also looks different for different people and their goals.

For someone the problem may be that they want better personal and collegial relationships. So that process may begin by reaching out to old friends or colleagues just to chat or go to lunch.

For others the problem may be career stagnation, and that process will inevitably be different. For them, something as simple as engaging in questions with other colleagues, then beginning to engage in meetings with large groups. The key here is, there's no such thing as a quiet leader and it will be impossible for anyone who wants to move forward in their career to completely ignore this skill.

That may be an acknowledgement to your second point that immutable introversion is indeed self defeating. But then you must define what self-defeat looks like for any one person. Everyone is different.

Lastly, to my original point, being able to speak your thoughts does not change your personality, in fact it just let's others take a small peek at what that personality is. You are in control of your thoughts and values, and that's what defines who you are. Not what you have to say, but rather how you say it, isn't that the saying?

๐Ÿ˜Š
-#TheWellSpokenDev

 

@thewellspokendev I actually initially thought u were a kid who just wanted to appear cool as a communicator cos he wasnโ€™t quite a coder. I now know better.

Extroversion is, to me, a lacking in certain skills. U explained it very accurately. One key skill is empathy.

When I speak publicly (teaching in class, speaking at conference, etc), I donโ€™t just think about my own presentation (choice of words, gestures, etc). A major part of my communication involves understanding (often in real-time) the audience Iโ€™m speaking with (not to).

U continue to amaze me. Youโ€™re certainly the real deal.

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