I'm hired as a software developer at a company that has sites in multiple countries, and I was sent to the sister location in the UK to collaborate in an interesting new project. I was excited to join this project because I was the only person from my country, and the project involved some disciplines that we don't usually work with at my home office, though I wrote my master thesis on a similar topic, so I wasn't totally inexperienced.

At the start of the project, I sat down with a more senior SW developer and a systems engineer to specify the work I would do and break down tasks. So far so good, we agreed on a preliminary design. Back at my home office, I wrote a prototype from the requirements that the project members had agreed on, and then sent it for review to the more senior developer in the project. Because I was a junior developer at that time, I expected that the more senior developer would give me review comments so that I could fix my mistakes and learn from them (common review practice). Instead of review comments, he sent me a prototype that he had reworked completely not explaining the updates. I was surprised, because this is not common review practice at my home workplace, and a developer behaving like this would not be respected. Here I decided to try the diplomatic way and wrote down a list of questions of the design choices he had made when he re-wrote the prototype. The quality of the answers was very bad, he did not back them up with facts but instead used arguments like "I'm more senior than you so I'm right" and "I like my own design better". The argument for a fix he made which was less readable than my original design was that "this piece of code is more optimized". We both work mainly with embedded SW and this project would run on a PC so I asked him if one small optimization really mattered, no answer. Here I started to worry about the quality of the prototype because the customer deadline was approaching, and it had not gone through a proper review yet. The lead engineer for the project was CC:ed to this whole conversation between me and my senior colleague, and here he asked me to stop "fighting and disturbing my senior colleague" because the customer deadline was approaching.

It is an understatement to say that this experience made me disappointed and made me consider quitting working in the tech industry. Back at my home office in my own country, I told my boss and a colleague what had happened, and the only reaction I got was "Ah, shit! That happens sometimes." and I got reassigned to another project. Have something like this ever happened to you and in that case, what did you do about it?

tl;dr: Senior colleague rewrote my code not explaining why, and when I asked him questions about the updates I got answers like "I'm more senior than you so I'm right" and "I like my own design better". Have something like this ever happened to you and in that case, what did you do about it? There were no consequences for the senior SW developer, and I'm not happy with how my boss handled this. What should I do?

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    What's your actual goal here? You've moved on to another, hopefully better, project. Sep 2, 2021 at 9:33
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    My goal is to see if someone else shares similar experiences, or maybe find out if this is common practice in the SW industry.
    – jack_h
    Sep 2, 2021 at 9:35
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    How could I learn anything at all when he refused to answer any questions on his updates? Did you read the full text before commenting?
    – jack_h
    Sep 2, 2021 at 9:51
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    @jack_h People will tell you all kinds of things about idealised workplaces. What you have is your reality. That's all that matters. Sep 2, 2021 at 9:58
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    I am from the UK, and in my experience as a senior software developer, this is not standard practice. I have however come across developers who think they they are much superior to others, but never have I come across this. I think unfortunately you have just come across a not very nice up their own backside kind of person. Sep 2, 2021 at 10:00

3 Answers 3


It's an unfortunate experience, and there's nothing you can do about it.

No offense, but you seems a bit naive expecting everyone in the workplace will always be nice, professional, and cooperative. Now and again, you will come across rude and standoffish peoples who will walk over you. Maybe they don't have an ounce of teaching skill, or they just have a big ego. Cranky McGrump over there is probably thinking: "I've been doing this job for 20 years, I know what I'm doing, I don't have time to explain myself to some new schmuck fresh off the boat". And since those people usually outrank you, unless they cross an ethical line (i.e: outright bullying or gross incompetence), there's little you can do but grind your teeth. If you complain, they'll just tell you to grow a thicker skin.

Take it for what it is: a learning experience, not about software design but about reading a workplace, which is also an important skill. Who's nice, who's not, who pretends to be nice and is not. Who you can debate with over design, and who's a lost cause.

Fortunately, people like Cranky McGrump are not the majority, but it's not so rare to run into one. And yes, it's sometime puzzling how they managed to reach their current position while being so unpleasant, but here they are. It's a fact of life, so to speak.

  • Thank you for your answer! Haha yes maybe I'm too naive, but I would not wish this treatment upon anyone
    – jack_h
    Sep 2, 2021 at 11:20

You don't need to go to the UK to come across arrogant or stubborn colleagues, you can find those anywhere.

When you come across them, understand what they are and make it work for you instead of getting upset or frustrated. Learn as much as possible both technically and soft skills dealing with different people.

Complaining about people and needing to be removed from a project is not a good look. Whatever else, there is always an implication that there is another side to this story when looked at by a third party.

  • Haha yes that's true! I've come across arrogant people from many countries... Fortunately I did not ask for this person to be removed from the project, I simply asked my boss for advise on what to do. Yeah, there's always more sides to a story about a conflict, this man probably thought I wasn't good enough for this task, and he was right because I was a junior.
    – jack_h
    Sep 2, 2021 at 11:30

These things are common in some places.

People may have a lot of reasons for preferring a specific architecture, and indeed sometimes reasons can be hard to articulate. Sometimes the reason is simply because it's more similar to existing solutions. And sometimes there are a multiple of great reasons that can take a long time to articulate.

My recommendation is to put your head down and get some experience. With experience your solutions become closer to what people expect (even if they are further away from what you consider ideal at the moment).

And yes, I've absolutely worked with people like this, and I've been on the receiving end. These people are often tolerated because they are technically good. And sure, you can go to HR or management and make a big deal of it, but what's the point.

  • Thank you for your answer. The point is that I value a nice work environment, and the senior developer could easily have avoided making this so awkward but he chose not to and I really have a hard time understanding that.
    – jack_h
    Sep 2, 2021 at 10:14
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    It basically comes down that people don't have time or inclination to make you feel good. That's just not their priority. It's not about you, it's about them. Sep 2, 2021 at 10:30
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    The funny thing is that this man seemed nice from the beginning, he showed me pictures of his kids, shared a lot of thoughts about the workplace + his hobbies with me and then he did this...
    – jack_h
    Sep 2, 2021 at 11:17

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