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I'm a 23 year old woman, working as a junior Q&A.

Some time ago I asked the dev team (mostly men, all older than me) for something that I needed to do my job. They weren't really happy with my request and made sure to let me know. They also didn't seem in a hurry to make the change until I told them that it really needed to be done (and the boss supported me).

One of the devs just informed me (using online communication) that it will finally be ready tonight. I want to acknowledge the fact that I have received the message--and maybe even thank them--but I don't want to sound like they are doing me a favor. How can I express that?

For now, I have just ignored the message and posted something unrelated in the communication channel we use (Slack).

Edit: Please consider that I'm really bad at interpersonal skills when answering my question. So be as precise as possible.

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Just thank them in a low-key, professional way. Being overly effusive about it might give the impression that you feel they have done you a big favor, so instead of something like "Thank you so much for taking care of it, that's excellent!" stick to basic politeness. "Sounds good, thanks."

I also work on a developer team, and I often thank my coworkers, for example, when they complete a code review on my work, even though peer reviewing code is a basic work duty that is absolutely required, and not a favor to me. They are still helping me succeed by their actions (making an honest effort to thoroughly review my work), even if it wasn't really optional for them to do so.

You can't prevent them from feeling like this is somehow a favor to you, but being relaxed about should be reasonably effective in conveying that you haven't taken it as an exceptional situation or personal favor, but still do appreciate their efforts.

4

OP here

Summary of my answer:

  • What I didn't do.
  • Why I didn't want to do it.
  • What I have done.
  • What else I could have done if I had thought of it sooner.

After I received the message stating that what I was waiting for would be ready "tonight", I thought about responding:

Thanks :)

However, the smiley face of Slack was really smiling too much, that's why I was uncomfortable using it.

I also thought about sending a simple "Thanks" but I was afraid as being seen as cold (I use smiley often when communicating and studies show that woman have to use them if they don't want to be seen as too cold).

What I did instead (and after an unfortunate delay) was to send a smiley "Thumb up" (👍) to show that I appreciated the news.

The key word here is appreciation. I didn't thank them for anything, so they couldn't interpret the thanks as "you are doing me a favor" but I still managed to show appreciation by using the smiley.

What I could have also done (thanks to @DaveG for the idea) was to thanks them, not for the work, but for keeping me in the loop and telling me it would be ready soon.

Telling me, in advance, that this would be done, isn't part of there job, so thanking them for that is absolutely appropriate.

I could have done something like that:

Thanks for the update!

  • 3
    I like the thumb up as the answer :) and when you say "They weren't really happy with my request and made sure to let me know.", I think the next step would or could be: how do I communicate in advance to people in my team that, despite my lack of IPS, I appreciate their efforts to understand and help me" :) better prevent the fire before any sparkle, no? ;) – OldPadawan Jan 27 at 10:22
  • @OldPadawan I thought it was against SE norms to Answer your own question. – Johns-305 Jan 28 at 17:23
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    @Johns-305 Quite the opposite actually. – scohe001 Jan 28 at 17:24
  • @scohe001 Thanks! Excuse me while I go point this out elsewhere... :) – Johns-305 Jan 28 at 17:44
  • I'm only just seeing this question, but for what it's worth i would have recommended using the phrase 'much appreciated', which in the UK at least is an acceptable stand alone acknowledgement. it does also avoid any fears of using emoticons seeming at all cutsey. – Spagirl Feb 13 at 12:22
2

For clarity, your personal demographics are (or at least should be) irrelevant to the situation. There is no reason to let them constrain you. Additionally, I am speaking from the position of Dev and Chief.

The Interpersonal Skill here is Professionalism --in a software dev shop, which means as direct and causing as little disruption as possible.

For example (this is what I would expect, and do, as a Dev):

Super thanks

If you don't know the exact words to use, you can review some channel history to see how others acknowledge things. But be sure you fully understand the context and implications. If you want our opinion, comment here with some options.

Framing: They're not doing you a favor by doing their job. If accommodating the test requirements made it onto the backlog, they're just expected to deliver it. This is Chief's perspective.

A favor would be asking them to deliver it early in the sprint.

Keep in mind, their displeasure with doing this work probably has nothing to do with you. More than likely it's a systemic problem. Meaning, they don't see the value in adding test harnesses or unit test methods because nothing ever comes of it. This is very, very, very common.

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    I like this other than the "Super" wording. That sounds a little odd to me, but maybe it's just an age / region thing. I'd probably say something like "thanks for letting me know". – DaveG Jan 25 at 15:21
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    @DaveG Maybe, sure, it's personal thing. My chat history is full of Super, Awesome, Perfecto (not 80's retro at all ;) I'm sure OP can substitute equally on point. – Johns-305 Jan 25 at 15:30
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    I'd be more concerned about the "super" being misinterpreted as sarcastic, and therefore unprofessional. I think that this is more likely the more chance there is that the dev team perceived annoyance or other hostility (however mild) directed towards them. And, it's certainly not less professional to just say "Thanks!". – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Jan 25 at 16:36
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    you can review some channel history to see how others acknowledge things -> this is really important IMO. Because you need to stick to what people are used to, and the "team mood" and/or "team codes". Don't break them, use them instead ;) – OldPadawan Jan 25 at 17:04
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    Well, if you think that a young women, with very little IPSkills, dealing with older men, is the same as a "M.O.B" with a tough skin as thick as the one of an elephant (like me) dealing with sweet and nice younger extraverted colleagues, then yes, background/demos are irrelevant :)) but it's not, I'd say... Be it a professional environment or not doesn't mean that people will behave as professionals, and that's (bad)experience-based unfortunately. – OldPadawan Jan 25 at 21:32
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Since they did end up helping you, I don't think you lose anything by thanking them.

In fact, being gracious about other people's help (even if it's a normal part of their job) can greatly improve work relations. In this example, they might be even less willing to help out the next time if they feel their effort is not appreciated.

That does not mean you have to go out of your way (unless someone went above and beyond what you could have expected), but a simple "Thanks" or "Thank you" is both friendly and professional.

-1

In the real world what you say and do has consequences for you.

These developers, whose age and gender should really be irrelevant for this discussion, did do you a favour. They have lots of work to do, and some of this work got delayed to do work for you, so it cost them. And let's be clear, developers don't jump when you say jump, they are not supposed to. If there is a need to do work that benefits primarily you (and not a customer), then this has to come from their manager, not from you. Your boss didn't "support" you; he made a decision about priorities, which is not your decision and not the developers' decision to make.

All that said, a message like "thanks, this is really helping me make progress with my job" would go down really well. If that message doesn't come, they will say to each other "A 'Thank you' would have gone down very well". You really don't want to make them feel like they did you a favour? That means you want them to do only things that benefit you because they are forced to? That way, you only set yourself up for confrontation.

Everything will work a lot better if everyone is nice to each other, and that includes you. You are a team. It's not "23 year old woman and lots of older men", it's a team. You have to work together. And to achieve that, you have to make them want to work with you. When any of my colleagues does something for me, I ask politely, I say "thank you", and guess what, they do things for me. And others do the same, so I do things for them, without delaying.

Interpersonal summary: Be nice. Say "thank you" when someone did something for you. Start with "Sorry, do you have a minute", or "Sorry, but I need some help here" when you ask for something. Accept people as they are. Read Dale Carnegie's "How to make friends and influence people", but only to gain understanding. And one thing: Avoid being fake. You work with highly intelligent people who have seen it all. They will smell any strategies that people might tell you here from a mile away, and they won't like it.

PS. ""Avoid being fake" means avoid being fake. It means saying "thanks" and meaning "thanks". I have seen advice given and accepted here that basically meant being fake, trying to manipulate people. It will backfire, so don't do it.

  • What do you mean by "Avoid being fake"? And what does this have to do with anything? – Ælis Jan 27 at 16:35
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    I suppose he's talking about his last advice of reading "How to make friends and influence people". If you try to use it as a toolbox to fix people to serve you it's very likely they will catch you the moment you try. He's saying you to try to be friends, not to fake to be friends. – Rekesoft Jan 28 at 11:41

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