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I'm aware of similar questions had been asked before.

But this question is more about myself: how do I increase my own tolerance?

I understand that there is the Dunning-Kruger Effect. So incompetent people don't know that they're incompetent. But it does bother me, sometimes it bothers me so much that even makes me a bit angry, especially when the incompetent co-worker is also quite stubborn.

For example, I believe the title "Senior Software Engineer" carries a lot of weight. Some developers should just stay at intermediate level regardless of how many years of experience they have. But the reality is that they get promoted to senior level because of the years of experience they have. They have been doing things in a certain way for x years without event knowing why doing things that way, and when not to apply this approach.

But hey, I understand that I can't change the world. The question is, how do I increase my own tolerance? How do I not care when someone has no idea what he's talking about but just keeps talking? How do I stay calm when someone not only refuses to learn good practices, but also try to promote bad practices?

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    Also, I sense a little bit of, perhaps, pride or condescension towards these people. Could that be something you could work to improve? – DarkCygnus Aug 20 at 0:16
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    How do your performance assessments compare with theirs? – DJClayworth Aug 20 at 2:01
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    Who's the arbiter of what is good practice and what is bad practice? You? How did you come to be in that position? – joeqwerty Aug 20 at 2:49
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    "I understand that there is the Dunning-Kruger Effect. So incompetent people don't know that they're incompetent." - how do you know that you are assessing your own skill level correctly? – Daveoc64 Aug 20 at 9:45
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    In a very non-offensive way, I believe the Dunning-Kruger Effect is in in effect right now, as we read. Calling other people idiots and incompetent yet they're there doing what they're doing and getting away with it. – Dan Aug 20 at 16:48
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For example, I believe the title "Senior Software Engineer" carries a lot of weight.

Don't. Seriously. The weight it carries varies wildly depending on the organization. It can mean a lot, or it can mean basically nothing. There is no certification or professional accreditation for "software engineer" to begin with, so it makes little sense to place much meaning on the modifiers of "junior", "senior", or "super-duper-level-X".

There is no reason to get hung up on titles, no reason to get hung up on the unfairness of the world. If you do, you will only create more bad feelings for yourself and develop a reputation for being difficult.

The real problem here is that your workplace doesn't match your values. If you aren't in a leadership role, there's not much you can do about it until you've gained a very high level of trust within the organization. That takes time, effort, and, you will find, a LOT of tolerance and patience for accepting things as they are.

  • good point about the title and the value matching. good thing is that I'm a contractor, I've already signed the next contract. I spent a lot of time in the interview to make sure the value somewhat mostly matches. – Allen Zhang Aug 20 at 3:14
  • There is no certification or professional accreditation for "software engineer"... which is exactly the problem in the industry. – Romeo Sierra Aug 21 at 11:28
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I understand where you are coming from.

I think the key is to realise that this is the reality. Some people are just lucky and stumble up the workplace ladder, despite their shortcomings.

You also need to learn to pick your battles. If something is not going to have a massive negative impact, maybe it's not worth your time and emotional investment to be concerned about it.

If you can find an ally in your workplace, it becomes a lot easier. Talking about issues with a friend or colleage is very cathartic. Just make sure it's out of earshot.

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How do I not care when someone has no idea what he's talking about but just keeps talking?

If this person is talking to you and you have other more important things to do (and the chat is not related to a task or current project) I say it's perfectly fine to politely dismiss them, something perhaps like: "Hey Joe, I'd love to keep chatting with you, but I am in the middle of doing X. Can we talk later?"

How do I stay calm when someone not only refuses to learn good practices, but also try to promote bad practices?

I take it it's part of your job to teach good practices to others in your company. If not... well, then you are getting into something that is not part of your role, and something (teaching) where you will constantly have to deal with people learning or "incompetent" people (as, well, people that know don't need to be taught).

If teaching is not part of your role, I suggest you stop doing it frequently. Try to help or teach when you can or are asked, but don't break your head if these people don't understand or learn what you say. You are only putting yourself in a stressful situation.

Now, if someone is promoting bad practices then that is something worth mentioning and changing. When the person does that (most likely in a meeting or something) politely ask for their reasoning behind the way they suggest things are done. Then, proceed to expose your suggestion in case it were indeed better than the one suggested.

Same thing applies to your code and version control tools. If you see a commit where bad practices are in place, try commenting why they did that, discuss it during the daily stand-up, etc.. The point is, if you see bad practices, swiftly and politely bring it to attention, so you can work it out ASAP.

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I believe the title "Senior Software Engineer" carries a lot of weight.

As teego has said, this is the core assumption that is creating great angst. Maybe if you conceptualise the issue in a more complex way, that might reduce your frustration? Maybe the underlying assumption is that "Senior" means technically competent or "better".

How about the other ways the person that might be important and useful for the company other than technical skills that are valid and important? Lets say the person was instrumental in founding the company in the past and this is an honorary position for them? Or maybe this person is very well connected with customers or relationship building with important stakeholders that you may not be aware of? I am sure you can think of many other legitimate and solid ways that teams and companies require skills other than technical to survive and do well...

Could it be that you have your own Dunning-Kruger blindspot? Which blindspots do you have that might be causing some frustration? Could it be that don't have the skills to keep calm, self-soothe (distress tolerance) or interpersonal skills to smooth over this difficulty?

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