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I find myself stuck in an uncomfortable position at work. There is a developer who is well regarded by management and other devs. For some reason he has developed some animosity towards me and will block my diffs suggesting many unnecessary changes, not providing all the feedback upfront, giving unjustified negative feedback to my manager on my code quality etc. He doesn't do this to other people. We are both senior developers at same level but I have recently switched domains to the area where he has more experience and social capital in the company. When I bring this up to my manager I feel that even though he can see I have a point and the difficulty I am having, he is mostly expecting me to somehow sort out the matter with him. How should I handle this situation?

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  • Have you worked with him earlier, directly or indirectly? Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 8:23
  • Do you have different coding styles? I'm not necessarily saying this justifies his actions, but perhaps your styles clash quite a bit, even if in both cases, the code works just fine.
    – user34587
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 8:53
  • Did you already talk to him directly? How does he react to you in normal interactions with him? Sounds like more of an interpersonal problem on how to resolve a conflict with your colleague.
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 9:02

3 Answers 3

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I'm confused as to what you mean by-

block my diffs suggesting many unnecessary changes

Code review is a dialog, not a unilateral process. If he brings up something in code review and says "why have you done it this way?" then it's up to you to justify your reasoning. If you can't justify it effectively then it may well be that he has a point?

If he really is suggesting large unnecessary changes then just elevate the decision to your manager, it's the company's time that's being wasted not yours so they're the ones that ultimately get to make the decision.

An example:

Bully: Why did you pick the colour red for this error message? I think we should implement an arbitrary colour picker for error messages so that the user can pick their favourite colour.

You: That feature wasn't in the design spec, and the client hasn't asked for it. The scope for this issue was "display an error message to the user when X happens".

Bully: Add it in now or I won't accept the PR.

You: OK, well it's a business decision for [person who makes decisions], we'll put this on hold for now until we have an answer.

You've done your job, completed the task to the specifications- and importantly you haven't been combative. The delay in this situation is the "bully"'s insistence on his ideas being implemented, and not a bickering match or your refusal to do the work. If the business decides that they simply must have an arbitrary colour picker then it becomes your job to implement that as well, no matter how daft it may seem.

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Be more pedantic with your work until any complaints come across as petty.

Answer any queries on your work professionally and calmly.

Eventually you prove your worth and he has no ammo and any shots he takes make him look childish or jealous.

This isn't a major problem yet, it's just a person with a grudge for some reason, probably trying to look superior. Be the better professional.

Good managers are aware that issues like this arise when new staff move in and take it into account. Since you haven't been reprimanded I assume your manager isn't worried.

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  • -1 for this "it's just a person with a grudge for some reason" because you don't know if this is true. Maybe the OP behaves in a way that asks for such a treatment. Because the OP writes: "developer who is well regarded by management and other devs"
    – Edgar
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 4:53
  • @Edgar being well regarded and popular doesn't mean they're perfect, if another dev is moving in to their domain it's natural for some people to try and establish a pecking order at the other persons expense. Seen it many times. I am taking the OP at face value, or there is no point answering.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 5:04
  • Sure that happens. But if a developer seems to be reasonable with anybody else except one person than maybe that one person is the problem and not the developer. I don't say the OP here is the problem. But he should consider that possibility.
    – Edgar
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 8:41
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    @Edgar hardly seems worth the downvote when I'm just answering the OP's scenario, while you have made a totally different scenario up out of nothing, but que sera sera...
    – Kilisi
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 9:13
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Talk to the guy and ask him why he does what he does and listen to him.

Maybe this person is (a lot) more qualified then you and maybe he has important messages to you what you should do and how you should do it.

The fact that he is well regarded by the management and other developers is a sign that maybe he is not the problem here.

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