On the fear of [consequences of ]rejection

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/05/25 15:51 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/05/25/8551406.aspx

Some questions, I find myself holding my breath as I am reading them.

Confirmatory questions (questions where one has a hopeful assumptgion about the answer but with some [perhaps lingering] doubts prompting the interogatory statement) in particular.

This is because I start to worry (as I am reading) that the question is going in a direction that will require a "negative" answer -- an answer that deviates from their hopeful assumption.

A good example came through the other day:

Reviewing the info on the Unicode website, we see different up-casing rules, based on locale (i.e. Greek, Hungary).  We also know customers can install different MUI packs on Windows and change the default locale for both user accounts and the system account.
However, we think the up-casing rules in l_intl.nls do not change, regardless of the MUI packs installed and the locale set for user or the system accounts.  Is that correct?  Installing different MUI packs and changing the locale for user and the system accounts won’t change the up-casing rules software which depend on l_intl.nls won’t see a change in up-casing rules?

Luckily I got to exhale, realizing that my answer could help them realize that I did not have confirm their fears.

Because it is true that sometimes between versions of Windows the casing table has changed.

And it is true that if you pass the LCMAP_LINGUISTIC_CASING flag that the casing table has some specific changes for Turkic languages in particular.

But the changes the questioner was worried about? They don't happen. :-)

Of course the episode then inspired a bit of philosophizing on my part, since I wondered why it would bother me, what with so much of my job being about telling people how they are doing something wrong or bad or crazy or weird or dangerous or politically offensive.

And then having them thank me for doing it.

Why does the simple question and the fear of having to dash hopes cocern me when there is no emotional investment, if it is not going to bother me when I am working with a team more prominently?

It turns out the reason is fear of rejection.

If I am invested with a team then they know who I am and something about me, and they usually listen and seriously put thought into whatever I recommend. They may choose to ultimately not take the advice, but when they do they have reasons for their choices and I have confidence that they did their due diligence and have an understanding of the consequences.

When there is no such investment and I confirm their original plan's validity then again there is no worry -- they go along on their merry way feeling good about their decision.

But when there is no such investment and I confirm their fears, things don't always go as well. They might dismiss my words without the extra consideration, and then I have to fear how much of my own reputation or approach may have influenced their decision.

No one likes their opinions rejected, and although for the most part I don't care, the fear that a bad decision could be made due to someone dismissing the nature of a message's "envelope" rather than its content does cause concern, for me.

Since I seem to have such a polarizing envelope, sometimes. :-)

Luckily things were okay this time. But this is all kind of stressful so I should figure out a long term solution to this fear of rejection (or more accurately, fear of the potential negative consequences of the rejection) just to keep my own stress level down....

I have some reflections about this as well, but I will save them for another time since I thjink I have buried the technical question enough for one blog. :-)

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