It's my first time posting here so just bear with me.

I work at a software development company that primarily focuses on C#-based web development, but they also work on desktop applications on occasion. I began interning at the company last summer, roughly 8 months after a good friend of mine started. After the summer ended, I became a near full-time employee. From there up until a few weeks ago, I handled tasks like solving platform compatibility issues, database maintenance and Amazon Web Services. I have a strong background in C/C++ coding, as well as assembly and a few other languages. Recently, my boss has decided to try and get me up to speed with C# Web Development, as our company is taking on a large project. I am totally open to my boss trying to teach me new things, but my willingness to learn appears to be provoking some negative comments in the workplace (mind you, we are a company of about 20 people.)

Typically, my boss will assign me a task, and leave me to figure it out. But within the past few days of training, he has been sitting directly next to me, watching my every move. I, unfortunately, don't exactly work well when my boss is sitting inches away. I end up asking stupid questions that I do actually know the answer to, but I am so flustered that I simply can't give a proper response. Try to keep in mind that this code training has been underway for only about 3 days total. Everything was going just fine, up until this past Friday. I asked a valid question, only for my boss to turn over to a co-worker and say "See, this is how [Friend] was 12 months ago. You can really see the growth with [Friend].." I simply ignored the comment as the two exchanged a laugh. Later in the afternoon, the same co-worker went to help our graphic designer when the boss was out to lunch. I overheard him say "Wow, you are almost worse than [Me] at coding.. that's sad". He then proceeds to glare over in my direction.

So I guess my question for all of you is how can I deal with the negative feedback? I am a quick learner, but I never expected to get mocked for not learning an entire language with all it's nuances in 3 days flat. Am I just overreacting? I appreciate any comments.

  • 2
    Is the "sitting next to you" actually "pair programming"? This is a fairly normal training method for developers. Try to get into it; it's stressful for everyone. It's a great opportunity; you will never learn as much as fast as when you are pairing.
    – KatieK
    Jun 30, 2014 at 16:54
  • 4
    Thanks for the comments everyone. Teego1967, It's safe to say you were correct on misinterpreting body language, as well as my self proclaimed "stupid questions". Apparently that coworker has a sharp sense of humor, and I was blowing it out of proportion. This week has gone a lot better, I think the key to not getting flustered is to just get more experience with pair programming. @TheMathemagician, I taught myself C/C++ during my sophomore year in high school. Considering I'm 17 years old, that wasn't too long ago. I had also dabbled in C#, but that wasn't why they hired me to begin with.
    – Kaleb
    Jul 1, 2014 at 22:34
  • Is this question about the boss or the coworker (or the boss's style of teaching programming, or your pace of learning)? If so it needs retitling. The coworker is only reacting to the boss, even if annoying.
    – smci
    Jan 9, 2017 at 21:18

1 Answer 1


The fact that they hired you even though you are not experienced in C# is a good sign. To a large extent your boss believes in your ability to come up to speed. You should see this as an opportunity; most places would not be OK with training a C/C++ developer for web development in C#.

You might want to reconsider whether the negative things you described are real. Your boss is spending significant time with you, if he didn't think you were worth it, he would be doing other things. Perhaps use that an opportunity for significant dialog rather than as an uncomfortable intrusion. Also, overhearing partial conversations and trying to interpret body language such as "glaring" is prone to error. You might be coming to the wrong conclusions.

Also, it seems you feel awkward about asking questions, you are concerned that they are "stupid" questions. This is totally understandable. For whatever reason, many people in software development are intolerant of questions which they consider to be "bad". You can see a lot of that inclination here on stackexchange sites. The problem is that this intolerance is really harmful for pedagogy. Coming to terms with a new subject will always lead you through periods of confusion. At the very least, not being aware of what you don't know means that you're going to ask non-sequitur questions, questions that lead to dead-ends, and questions which lead to more questions. From the point of view of a naive subject-matter-expert, these are "bad" questions. From the point of view of a good mentor these are necessary in the path to mastery.

I think that you should feel emboldened to continue to ask questions, especially questions that go back to first principles. Some of them will not be received well, some will challenge whoever tries to answer them (for instance, it is amazing how much complexity there can be within a sequence of http requests, this complexity is hidden by the framework-du-jour and often "experts" lose understanding of what their tools are actually doing). If you're genuine with your questions and make a good effort to understand the answers, you'll come up to speed faster than if you restrain yourself from asking questions for fear of appearing stupid.

  • 2
    I don't see how you could interpret, " Ha-ha, you're almost as bad as so and so" any other way. That's obviously disparaging, and should be brought up with their boss.
    – Kai
    Oct 2, 2015 at 17:05
  • @Kai, I 100% disagree. It all depends on the culture...my supervisor always makes jokes about me and my skills and I laugh along with him...
    – Prodnegel
    Apr 28, 2017 at 14:39
  • @Prodnegel definitely culture-dependent. From my POV, if it were a known "in" joke between myself and a friend, it'd be one thing, but to have a random coworker with whom I do not have a casual/jovial relationship with make a remark like that, I'd definitely interpret it as disparaging.
    – Doktor J
    Oct 13, 2017 at 19:16

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