I just graduated from grad school and joined a job at a large software company in the US 3 months ago.

I enjoy reading recent research papers to get ideas and to understand what's going on in the field. Recently I found a great paper that wasn't directly related to what I'm doing, but does apply to work another group in the company is doing.

Since I don't work directly with that group, I sent a quick e-mail to the senior engineer including the paper, saying:

Hi, my name is samarasa. I'm a new software engineer working on project A. When looking at research papers on this sort of work, I came across something that may interest your group.

Instead of being grateful, the senior engineer responded that it wasn't my position to be making suggestions since I was new on the job, and working in a separate group.

Was my behavior out of line? How should I go about repairing any damage I may have caused?

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    Hey samarasa, this question reads as a localized rant right now, so I'm going to try to edit it so it doesn't get closed. Your question makes the assumption that what you did was appropriate, but I think the real question is whether your actions were appropriate (and if not, how to apologize). If you think I missed the fundamental point, please edit it afterwards.
    – jmac
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 5:28
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    This is not a Duplicate IMO(I voted nc) but asking us to judge an action you have already taken is not constructive. And "How should I go about repairing any damage I may have caused?" - there is not necessarily any damage that was done. This question would be constructive if you can identify the damage that you would like help repairing. If you can do that and we can get the question edited into a properly constructive manner I would support reopening Commented May 31, 2013 at 12:36
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    If you want to mark this as a duplicate, this question is probably closer workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/5590/… Commented May 31, 2013 at 23:22

2 Answers 2


Your behavior was fine. The senior should have been more gracious, but I suspect that he felt threatened. Too bad for him -- with that attitude he will have a miserable career. Don't bother making any further suggestions to anyone you don't know. If there is one such person at your company, there are probably several.


It is possible that such a paper might eventually be valuable to the engineer.

Unfortunately, as it is a recent paper, and papers often deal with theory rather than evidence of application, it is hard to immediately digest what it may offer and turn the thoughts of the paper into something actionable.

The engineer may be well past the point of investigating alternate methods to design and implement whatever they are working on, especially methods that have yet to be fielded, or proven on a wide enough scale that they would be comfortable with to pursue.

The engineer may find value in the paper eventually, but for today they will not. Write a brief on the paper, include a disclaimer that characterizes your intent of fostering intellectual interest and growth because of the relevance, and ask for an opinion on the paper at their leisure.

Discuss it with your immediate supervisor, but try approaching them again, directly. Even though it was likely not your intent, apologize for coming off as perhaps too eager, or something of that nature; hand them the brief, and pre-emptively thank them for any thoughts they have on the topic. They may have just have been having a tough day, and unfortunately, friendly fire sometimes strikes.

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    I think reintroducing the paper again with a brief is not a good way to go, considering he has already clearly annoyed the guy. If he wants to read the original paper he will, but if he doesn't want to, I doubt he'll read a brief either.
    – jmorc
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 12:10
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    Often times it does not matter who is speaking or what is being said, but when and how it is said that fosters receptiveness. I admire persistence and am fairly free about giving out second chances, and I think many people ride that same boat. What is the worst thing that could happen, especially if preceded with humility and apologies?
    – JustinC
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 12:18
  • @JustinC The worst that could happen is that you permenently gain a reputation with the other team as a know-it-all who sticks his nose in where it's not wanted. If the other team contains one or more gossips, it could be more than the team that wind up with this impression. Commented May 31, 2013 at 23:24
  • @AmyBlankenship When one direct mention was made previously, and the initial response to that directed mention was shall we say, gruff? I guess someone may throw that label at a person, but it would be beyond unfounded and makes the labeler look even more petty...
    – JustinC
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 0:16
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    Small consolation if you lose your job or find the situation politically miserable. Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 2:11

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