I have about 4 years of experience as web developer for a company, and about 1 year of learning/working as freelancer before being employed by a company.

I find myself always thinking that my skills are worse than what they actually are.

When I was in my first job, my boss said that I am bad.

In my second job, things improved but still I feel very bad from time to time. This is when some good programmers started telling how bad this or this programmer is.

Or when a better programmer asks me a question - he wants to test my knowledge and I fail to answer it I also feel bad.

However, I really feel that I improved a lot since I started working at my second job. So why should I feel bad about my skills?

Plus - my friend programmer says that I should be able to get a 30% bigger salary in the market than I am currently getting. So logically this points to the fact that I should be happy with my skills and not worry.

Maybe those better programmers think that if you are not as good as they, you are bad and are the junk and are not worthy of respect. I don't mean that I should get as much respect as the better ones, but I think everyone be respected. If they have lower skill, they just simply get lower salary.

Also, they do not tell me straight in the eyes that I am bad, but I just assume this when I hear how they talk about others who have no skill they think they should have.

I am kind of considering changing jobs because of this, because it's sick to listen how they do not respect programmers who are less skilled than they are. But I am not sure if that is a good reason to change the job, perhaps simply because people in general might be good at their careers and just lack understanding in psychology, the same could be in other companies anyway. So then, I should learn to deal with it.

So any advice - how to deal with it or really this is a good reason to consider change a job? Or talk to them and say what I think that they should respect any people, which probably is bad idea to teach better ones?

I think how much skill a man has its his own problem. If a man is happy with his skill and salary, he uses his time for other things. Or also he does not have X skill because he does not need in his current job and did not need in previous job.

The good example are WordPress type developers. The programmers who are programming with frameworks just talk a lot of trash about Wordpress developers, because they most of them do not have OOP skills. But I know that wordpress developers can earn good amounts of money also, and they might not even need OOP skills, they need some other, so why should bother they, right?

Also - if I decide to leave the job and they ask why I leave - is it good to say the reason: that I feel sick of this lack of respect among workers. Or it might look a stupid reason for them and I should not say those?

I hope you understand that there will always be some better, some worse. So one is best in the company. So the best ones in the company have the right to disrespect all who are worse? And those worse have to be unhappy, stressed because of this? Hopefully no.


Can you say what concretely makes these "other programmers" better than you?

They are simply having more years of experience. Of course years alone does not make them better. I believe they are putting more time into studying after work. At least from what they say.

  • You are the one that decided to not be happy or relaxed because you are not the best. Focus on getting better at the skills for your current assignment. If someone says your code is bad then ask them why - use it as an opportunity to get better.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 12, 2015 at 19:26
  • @Blam - I am trying to get better. Thats ok. But while you are not better than those other, you cannot be happy and enjoy working and improving? And also those others at the same time might be improving at faster rate, so that means you never be as good as they and so you have to be disrespected and unhappy? And its not decided, its feelings, emotions from hearing the words. Mar 12, 2015 at 19:34
  • 2
    Disrespected and unhappy are not the same. Disrespect is what other people do to you. Unhappy is what you do to yourself. If you feel happiness is out of your control then that is your problem.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 12, 2015 at 19:43
  • Ok, its my problem, so the question to you - how to deal with that without being best employee? Mar 12, 2015 at 19:50
  • 1
    Can you say what concretely makes these "other programmers" better than you? The fact that they "talk trash" about others does not say they are better. But, if they are better, find out what makes them better and then use it so you can improve yourself. Don't take up the trash-talking though it's very childish.
    – Brandin
    Mar 12, 2015 at 22:27

3 Answers 3


Programmer Personalities

All programmers tend to slip between the having perhaps overzealous confidence and uncertainty in our abilities. We all spend at least a little time in one camp or the other on a fairly regular basis.

The extremes of these would be the Dunning Kruger Effect and Imposter Syndrome

chart of dunning kruger vs imoster syndrome

Right now it sounds to me like perhaps your dipping into the imposter syndrome territory of being fairly capable, but assuming your not, perhaps as a result of being around individuals of the other extreme.

Either way your confidence or a lack there of in no way reflects your actual abilities as a programmer. I've seen some of the best in the business confess they feel like they are living a lie and are no where near skilled enough to demand the respect they get.

Where do you really stand?

One major challenge is when your stuck comparing against others. There are some people who just have a natural talent for this stuff, there are others who have a ton of experience (and time isn't as important as content in experience)

When you're on a team keep in mind some of them have been doing this a decade and probably will know a lot more than you, that's fine! If some new guy blows past you that's still fine! you only need to worry if you simply aren't capable of finishing your work in a reasonable time and of a reasonable quality.

But it is good to figure out where you stand. Not compared to your peers but rather against yourself. (basically to make sure you're still improving) There are many online tests out there for free especially among the freelance communities to take. None of these tests are "great" but they are almost all "okay" so take several and see how you do. That'll give you a fair benchmark of where you actually are skill wise.

Even the best in the business have those moments where we make stupid mistakes or forget how to do things. That's what code review, testings, etc is for.

Working conditions

So first if you're peers aren't saying bad things about you to you don't assume they are talking about you behind your back. Often when our confidence is low we assume we're being judged at any given moment, and the vast majority of the time we're wrong.

If your peers are making for a hostile working environment that is a problem just make sure it's actually hostile and not that your reading into things that aren't there.

  • 1
    Ace answer, but doesn't the fact that his peers are bad-mouthing other colleagues to him already give a strong indication that this is in fact a hostile environment?
    – Cronax
    Mar 13, 2015 at 10:20
  • I like this "you only need to worry if you simply aren't capable of finishing your work in a reasonable time and of a reasonable quality." this could be in bold. If that is true and with this I can easily argue with them that would be good. Mar 13, 2015 at 21:24
  • @Cronax I managed to misread that, yes that would imply a hostile work environment. Probably not one I'd stick around. Mar 16, 2015 at 13:37

my friend programmer says that I should be able to get a 30% bigger salary in the market

This alone is reason enough to look for new employment. 30% is huge. As far as your problem with your coworkers goes there are two points you need to realize.

  • There will always be people like this, who want to put you down
  • You should not subject yourself to a hostile environment for a job

These two points may seem contradictory but stay with me. The key here is that you should not take what these other people are saying about you to heart. Start by trying to determine if this is intentionally malicious or if you are perhaps just taking their harsh criticism personally.

If they are being malicious then you need to make clear that you don't appreciate it and that you want to work with them. Working together is the key point. It does not matter if they got some better programmer that they imagine is out there, if they really do have a bad attitude to others then the better programmer will fair no better in such a hostile environment. Most business will have unique rules to perform their tasks and working with established team members is the only way even the best programmers will learn those rules to get good.

Give people some time and a chance to get to know you. If this does not change then you need to switch to point two and get out. Hostile environments can be a viscous cycle. The depression will affect your work and make you less productive. That will leave the impression that you are not as good as you could be and will likely make them more hostile to you.

As far as if you go the leaving route and what to say on your way out: Don't say the hostile environment is your reason for leaving. You should say that to a superior if you really want to stay, it will only look bad when you are leaving.

  • Yea, I might be taking to the heart. I was happy for some time again after friend programmer really confirmed that I am worth the money they pay me. But recently just again I heard those bad words and anxiety started. I also have suspicion that this kind of propaganda is to make guys like me think that they are bad and to not ask for big salary raises. Mar 12, 2015 at 19:58
  • I'd honestly not believe, let alone act on the 30% number without some double checking, such numbers are often exaggerated.
    – KillianDS
    Aug 24, 2015 at 8:27

First it's no shame to be in self-doubt, it's perfectly valid and just means that you are reflecting on your own skills and goals. This is often the only way to improve on something or to get to get to good decisions.

Naturally I can't judge your skill-level. Is it high enough for 4-years of programming experience? Are you under performing at the moment, or is it just your work environment? I can't possibly know. That's a thing you must somehow figure out yourself and to be honest I think you can't expect any honest feedback about this from your peers (even if direct friends), after all they are not there, when you are at your job and they can't judge if your actual performance is 30% worth more or less then your current salary.

As you already pointed out yourself, our skill-set is mostly defined by the projects and tasks that were assigned to us in the past. We just have to take every task that is assigned to us, as a chance to improve ourselves, to find new ways, to learn new skills and also to fail and learn from our mistakes. I think this "hungry" spirit is what it is really about to be a programmer.

If you totally lost this spirit, because you are working in a hostile environment where it's always about blaming or putting other people down - you should really consider leaving this place and find something else.

But please also be aware that programming simply is a demanding job and basically our skills are defining our value for our company and therefore in the end also the respect we get from our coworkers and bosses - that's capitalism. You should keep that in mind, so you don't have to realize that it's the same in your next job.

  • Thanks for thoughts. About skill for 4 years. First - as far as I know there is no definition, how much skill you should have after those 4 years. Also it depends on your job - if all the time you work with wordpress, you do not have symfony skill, you know. Also - who you work with, do you improve from your teammates. Does your company organize teaching new skill. I believe those better programmers could easily tell that for 4 years, I have too little skill. But then we could find top programmers of the state and then tell that those better than me reached too little :) you get the idea? Mar 12, 2015 at 19:49
  • Friend cannot accurately tell my market value of course, but he just guesses. To find that out - I need to go to some interviews. And yea, I understand that without skills, there is no value to the company. But I kind of hope that I have those minimal skills to bring the value to the company and also the bigger my skills - the more they have to pay me. For some tasks the is no really need to pay more because less skilled guy can easily do, so I think in some spots its even better to let less skilled and cheaper guy to do those easy tasks. Isn't it? Mar 12, 2015 at 20:05
  • @Will_create_nick_later Clearly, in the end we can't all be superstars (I'm not myself). The message I wanted to get across is that you have to figure out yourself whether it is you or your environment that is causing this situation. Other people are most of the time not helpful in that process (neither friends nor foes).
    – s1lv3r
    Mar 12, 2015 at 20:12

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