I started a new job at the beginning of December, and in those first two weeks I've had a few traumatic events happen in my personal life. I haven't necessarily been the happiest person at the jobs I've been at, but this last week I started as a teary mess and now feel completely numb. I'm worried that I am coming across as rude or mean.

Also probably worth mentioning that I seemed to have started off on the wrong foot: a sarcastic remark I made unintentionally hurt someone's feelings (my manager had a one on one with me about it), I went to a different department to ask about their workflow (I'm legacy software, they're the new stuff), and I think I came across as uppity (I'm still in training, but I saw the code was lousy with "magic numbers", which I lamented to someone).

Due to the magnitude of the personal events, I think it's going to take me a very long time to recover, but even so I don't feel like being happy, or even pretending to be. I haven't smiled or laughed the whole week, and I've only really talked to people if there's a work need. Is there a "right" way to avoid conflict while feeling like this?

UPDATE (A little over a month after this was written):

I was terminated, partly because I "seemed unfriendly" and "was always doom and gloom." Guess that answers my question...

  • Not at the moment. I've been looking at the EAP brochure to see how it can help.
    – S W
    Dec 22, 2018 at 13:55
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    When you are a new developer, and complain about the quality of existing code, be very careful not to complain to the person who wrote it.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 22, 2018 at 15:35
  • @gnasher729 Wise words. I've only worked in legacy code, so I guess I've been assuming anyone who wrote it has already left/retired.
    – S W
    Dec 23, 2018 at 3:17
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    Re: Update - I'm so sorry that you got fired for this. I'm always scared of that happening to me, too. I hope you find a job that allows you to be fully human with your own opinions and reactions to life. Mar 11, 2019 at 14:13
  • @April I did get a new job, and it's a much healthier place to work at, both socially and as a programmer. I've been feeling immensely better already. (Also it pays better, and it's a government job and I came from the private sector. Go figure, right?)
    – S W
    Mar 24, 2019 at 4:12

1 Answer 1


I understand how you feel. I lost my son nearly 4 years ago and I never thought I could be happy again. It's just difficult to not take a negative look on things when you're going through something like that.

What I learned is that you don't have to go through this alone. Talking to your manager privately is a great way to start so they understand what is going on in your life and they can help explain things on your behalf. I saw this from the other side once when a program manager started lecturing me about missing a deliverable in a public meeting. I was about to respond when my manager signaled to me that he wanted to respond instead sensing I was not happy with the situation. My manager smoothed the situation over with the program manager (the program manager was actually mistaken about the timing of the deliverable). My manager later told me that the program manager had recently lost a family member and everyone's been trying to cut him some slack. I understood the lecturing is not the program manager's normal behavior and I didn't expect him to apologize given the context. The point is that it can be difficult to discuss personal matters at work, but you'd be surprised at what a little context could do. It's also important to remember that you can't expect that slack forever and take advantage of your team either. But your team will give you time to work things out.

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    I am very sorry for your loss. I hope you are doing better. And thank you for the feedback and advice.
    – S W
    Dec 22, 2018 at 13:54
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    @SW Thank you for the kind words. I've mourned and shifted my outlook on life for better. My son may not have lived long, but he taught me a lot about living life.
    – jcmack
    Dec 22, 2018 at 18:29

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