I received feedback from my manager that a colleague found a code review comment of mine hurtful. He kept the name confidential.

It's important to me that code review remain a positive and collaborative interaction, so this is deeply concerning to me.

I looked over my recent comments and did not find anything that seemed objectionable to me - but that's the problem in a nutshell, isn't it?

What, if anything, should I do in this situation?

  • 138
    If they won't even tell you who then it is about as useful as a down vote on SE.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 23:01
  • 71
    This kind of non-specific feedback is completely useless. At least he should have provided the words complained of. Otherwise there is no case to answer. If he can't tell you without violating the other person's privacy, ask him whether he would have found it hurtful himself, or better still whether a reasonable person would have done so: i.e. is it my problem or the other guy's?
    – user207421
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 3:47
  • 8
    Are you comments in the code review of the same tone as comments often found on SE? If so, that may be the issue.
    – coderodour
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 17:29
  • 3
    I don't see a reasonable way to give you the feedback you need while also keeping the complainer anonymous. For example, if you know which comment it was, then you can see from the commit logs who it was (or guess).
    – Brandin
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 17:34
  • 3
    Your manager is mostly at fault here... he should have reviewed what was the comment about. If he did not agree with the complain, he should have said the complainer so; if he agreed with the complain then he should have said you "I find this comment offensive" and thus you could discuss with him how to improve it, without the need to disclose who did originally complain. Just saying "someone told me X" is not very professional by him, it is more the behavior you find in a children classroom.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 9:22

12 Answers 12

  1. "I received feedback from my manager that a colleague found a code review comment of mine hurtful."

  2. "I looked over my recent comments and did not find anything that seemed objectionable to me"

You need to communicate your manager and use the manager as a go-between to reconcile these two statements.

Once words are out of our mouths, they take a life and meaning of their own. Once in a while, people will read into our words meaning and implications that we never suspected were there - I will tell you from bitter, personal experience that the creativity of some of the people I ran into in interpreting my words in a way that offended them was staggering, and that's putting it mildly.

Talk to your manager and tell them that you don't have a clue of what you said that was hurtful and that you absolutely, positively need clarification. Tell him that you will apologize if you are at the origin of the miscommunication and you want to clear things up if you are not the origin of the miscommunication.

If I were placed in a position like yours, and the manager was reluctant to identify the individual or the feedback comment, I'd point out to the manager that I can address only those complaints that are specific enough to be actionable. I cannot be expected to guess at what the complaint is. If a manager were to put me in a position where I have to guess what the complaint is, I'd tear into him without a second's hesitation. His position is his problem not mine. He reported a complaint to me with the expectation that I'd address it. Like it or not, I expect his full cooperation in giving me the specifics of the complaint. Period.

  • 32
    You may have to accept, though, that this isn't possible. Knowing the specific comment is going to tell you exactly who is offended, and even a fake generically-similar might do the same.
    – Móż
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 3:13
  • 3
    I'm sorry, I used the wrong word. Please, for "offended" read "hurt".
    – Móż
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 3:43
  • 5
    I think @Móż is pointing out that the name of the complainant has so far been kept from the OP, and revealing exactly which bit of feedback drew the complaint would inevitably reveal the identity of the complainant, so the manager may be reluctant to do that.
    – AakashM
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 8:37
  • 32
    @AakashM - I'd point out to the manager that I can address only those complaints that are specific enough to be actionable. I cannot be expected to guess at what the complaint is. If a manager were to put me in a position where I have to guess what the complaint is, I'd tear into him without a second's hesitation. His position is his problem not mine. He reported a complaint to me with the expectation that I'd address it. Like it or not, I expect his full cooperation in giving me the specifics of the complaint. Period. Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 8:49
  • 7
    @VietnhiPhuvan I think that last comment is better than your answer. OP should absolutely decline to participate in guessing games, and should indeed push back at the manager as hard as possible.
    – user207421
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 11:56

What, if anything, should I do in this situation?

Code reviews are not supposed to be popularity contests. Don't worry about it, your manager isn't worried enough to even give you the details, so it's just a 'heads up', so just be careful with comments in future. Make sure they're professional and constructive.

  • 7
    It's also possible the manager misunderstood the comment: maybe the reviewee meant that the code review was a bruising tough learning experience (discovering your work isn't as immaculate as you think is always a bit painful / hurtful), and the manager misread this as a complaint. It's the manager's job to mediate, understand the problem, get important details from the reviewee if there are any, and communicate them. Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 13:10
  • 2
    If the manager thought enough to bring it up, then they must want some action (either that or they feel compelled to by policy), so I think "Don't worry about it" is pretty bad advice in this case. The manager has obviously, on some level, made it clear that code reviews should not be a forum to place blame.
    – user30031
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 22:04

I partly team up with Kilisi: A code review is not a "popularity contest". It is about how much a neutral set of characters fulfill set principles of the code language, coding style and purpose (and hopefully further developent also). It is not place to for hurting, and therefore not a place to feel offended at the same time!

In this specific case the community and the manager is also to be considered:

  • If the reviewer has extensive knowledge, but the submitter is not supporting professional atmosphere, the "hurt feeling" can be not reasonable.
  • If the manager does not have good skills in managing this situation, he will just roll with the hurt one, and throw the responsibility on the reviewer. A professional approach would be to ask the submitter to come clear, what was incorrect, and so the manager can address the type of issue to the reviewer.

One of the communications I hardly tolerate is the careless referencing. "I tell you something, you are supposed to work on what I actually mean by that, and then what I expect to see, then how to fit in there, and then to avoid nearly similar situation with me." Totally unfair, and unprofessional. This is how kindergarten effects come into play and serving them just make it worse. "The expert is not supposed to hurt the feelings of a submitter." Have you ever heard this as general outspoken rule to get on tracks? I don't think so. In a professional environment this makes no sense, because it is out of the question and business.

  • Question will always be - was the comment bad enough to warrant that response? We will never know. If it was just constructive review comment, without vitirol and jabs at the submittter, then we have a problem - turd in the punch bowl if you will. Management not doing their job (potentially) would turn into full on butthurtfest when some people catch a whiff they could play the process this way. I'd brush it off as "heads up" and just get ready, non-aggressively, in case for next time issue pops up. This time it might be worth turning the table around and speaking with manager privately. Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 14:49
  • In the end, I'm not sure what the advice is here, specifically this line, "In a professional environment this makes no sense, because it is out of the question and business."
    – user30031
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 22:05
  • Advice is that to keep the manager and the submitter also in line if they prove to not handle the situation professional, and check if the feedback is relevant, or reasonable. If the specific review comment was for example to "put more effort into clean code", the feedback is not reasonable. If the comment was for example "this code is very bad", that is not informative, and feedback is reasonable. See my point now?
    – Sonic
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 6:38
  • If 'put more effort into clean code' is very broad and possibly unhelpful if they are not sure what you mean by 'clean code'. Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 16:49
  • I'm sorry but this fails a simple hypothetical: 'this class is bloated and needs refactored' vs. a Torvalds-esque 'who the f$@k wrote this piece of sh^% code we do NOT mix these concerns'. Both convey more or less the same technical content. Someone might find the tone of the first to be objectionable, any reasonable person would be offended by the second. Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 18:46

I looked over my recent comments and did not find anything that seemed objectionable to me - but that's the problem in a nutshell, isn't it?

Go through your recent code reviews and read each of your comments in the snarkiest, meanest tone that you can muster. Out loud. (Probably from home)

If none of your comments sound like they match, when given that tone, then you're probably fine and your coworker was having a bad day.

This is basically a tl; dr from Steverr Robbins' advice. He also has more good advice, but basically it all boils down to be careful what you write, because it can be taken many different ways.

  • 1
    Yep, it's very hard to gauge tone of the message over e-mail or any other textual medium. Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 14:44

It may be hurtful to your manager, but what he has done was more than useless.

You have wasted your time checking where you might have done something that you find offensive. That waste of time is caused directly by your manager. You worry now how to write your code reviews, which might make your code reviews less useful in the future. That damage is directly caused by your manager.

If he hadn't said anything, things would have been fine. If he had told you what statement exactly was supposed to be hurtful, then you would either have explained to the person in question that this wasn't intended to be hurtful, or you would have explained that it was. Problem would have been fixed.

But due to the manager's stupid action, there was just wasted time with no result. I think that manager should really think about how they are acting. And if the manager takes that as hurtful, they can comment. Anonymously probably.

PS. Reading some comments here, some people seem to think that the complainer should have anonymity. Well, I wouldn't care who the complainer is - but once I know what they are complaining about, I can either clear up any misunderstanding, apologise if I was wrong, or tell them that what I wrote was exactly what I meant and if they find it hurtful that's their problem.

  • 1
    There's another issue here too, at least in my humble opinion. As far as I remember doing code reviews in some of previous orgs I worked for, it was team effort. It would be discussed, not as a stick at the end of a carrot, it was constructive team experience. Rule of iron fist process is hardly a good approach, like ever. If I would write a nasty review comment, that would very quickly get me through HR office door. Most likely twice, with it smacking my booty on my way out... Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 14:53
  • "If he hadn't said anything, things would have been fine." Strongly disagree. Pretending to live in a world where employee morale doesn't affect output is worse than useless.
    – user30031
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 22:08
  • "some people seem to think that the complainer should have anonymity" -- or at any rate that they do have anonymity within the system in place. Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 11:20
  • Different programmers like different kinds of feedback. Some programmers really want negative comments, no matter how small, so that they can weigh them and possibly improve over the long term. Some find every comment a chore and would prefer to just get their code done. Working with people who are different requires different techniques, and if you adjust the way you deal with everyone to handle one person's quirks, you will become less effective. Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 17:13
  • I think this is a bit harsh on the manager. In many cases a general comment like this could be constructive, at least as a first step. There may be a self-evident problem that the reviewer could see and correct. Personally I wouldn't do it this way (I would not transmit an anonymous complaint like this). But I don't think it is so terrible--as long as the manager follows up in a constructive way when the OP communicates that they don't see a problem.
    – user45590
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 8:54

I looked over my recent comments and did not find anything that seemed objectionable to me - but that's the problem in a nutshell, isn't it?

In this case yes, but not always. Ideally, when you looked back over what you'd written you would have found one or more things that on reflection you realise could be hurtful, even though of course you never intended them that way when you wrote them. That's the hope, when bringing something like this to your attention without specifics. But it hasn't worked out that way.

I will assume you're bound to respect the anonymity of the complaint, and hence you cannot be told which specific comment caused hurt. Granted, not all answers here agree with that anonymity, but this is not a criminal trial, or even an internal disciplinary procedure, and so it's up to the employer whether to grant it. I think your best move is to do what you can, and be seen to do what you can, within that system. Don't just say, "I won't improve unless you tell me who has accused me", that makes you look unwilling to improve, with a side-order of suspicion that you intend to be vindictive. It might also appear unpleasantly ironic to your boss, that your response to a criticism that your criticisms are unintentionally hurtful, is to demand to treat that criticism like a criminal accusation!

So assuming you do anything about it at all, I think you have two good options here:

  1. Try not to say anything hurtful in future. You will not achieve the improvement that you would have achieved if your attention was drawn to specific things you do that are hurtful but which even on reflection you aren't able to see are hurtful. But you can go out of your way to be gentle. There's a fair chance this is what your boss expects.

  2. Go back to your boss and say, "I'm sorry, I still can't see what I'm doing wrong here, so I'd really appreciate some help improving. Is there someone who can advise me on the way I write in general, without referencing the particular comment that was complained about? Are there comments other than the one that was complained about, that you can use to illustrate the problem I need to address?". Of course you can also do this without going back to your boss, if you have any kind of mentor, or just pick a colleague you think might be able to see what you can't.

It's also possible that your boss basically disagrees with the complaint, and doesn't expect you to do anything about it, but has to go through the motions. Which is rather unpleasant for you, since you now have a complaint against you and no means to remedy it or defend yourself. So if he thinks he's doing you a favour by letting it slide then he's probably wrong, and he's probably going to see the whole business repeated in future.

Far better, if he disagrees with the complaint, would be for him to go back to the complainer and say, "I'm sorry that you're hurt, but this is entirely in line with the comments that we expect to be given during code review, so we'll help you to respond to them in the spirit they were intended, which was to criticise the line of code on the page and not you. This is the result of the standards we've set for the whole team/company, not anything that aednichols in particular has done wrong, and so please do not hold it against him or conclude that because of what he wrote he must think badly of you". And never tell you that anything happened.

Finally, you can't really "make things right" with the person who was hurt. They seem to have raised the issue under condition of anonymity, and so they do not expect an apology from you. You could perhaps ask your manager to make some statement to them on your behalf, that you intended no hurt and are sorry to have caused it. Since you don't know what you did wrong, this will be very vague and so probably isn't worth doing, but your or your boss might juge that it would help. A statement like that, which your boss vouches for as sincere, might even cause the other party to drop their anonymity so that you can all deal with the issue in full. Long shot but you never know your luck.

  • This should be the top answer. You deserve a +1 just for "they do not expect an apology from you," but the rest of your answer is also perfect. I wish I could +2 or +10 this. Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 18:54

To whom? Everyone.

One person did you a favor, and let you know that your feedback was, for some reason, offensive to them. You have an opportunity to make sure your feedback is constructive and positive for everyone. You don't know who else has felt that way also, or may feel that way in the future. Find a voice and style That works for as many people as possible, including yourself.

  • How do you know it was a favor? What if the person is ultra-super-hyper-sensitive and the correct result is for him or her to stop taking code review personally and grow up a little bit. It's totally find in code review to disagree with your reviewer, and come right back with an explanation of what's going on and why you think the way you did it is the best. It's supposed to be a conversation between two professionals who leave out their egos and only solve problems. Part of professionalism is to avoid going bananas when someone else is short of professional--and to help that person improve.
    – CodeSeeker
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 2:06
  • @ErikE Exactly. And part of professionalism is not taking the bait, and not getting thrown by someone who is overly sensitive, The favor? If the person was incredibly sensitive, then that person gave you some practice handling overly sensitive people. That's a gift. You can hit that pitch, you can hit anything. As long as we're spinning guesses--this might have been a totally legitimate complaint too. It doesn't really matter to the argument.
    – jimm101
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 2:20
  • I see what you're saying. The lessons we need the most are often the ones we dislike the most. I guess what I was thinking is that of the two errors, not knowing how to perfectly cater to the most overly sensitive person with the most gauzy kid gloves while being able to receive normal criticism well, or being the most overly sensitive person who can't tolerate the tiniest bit of conflict or criticism, I know which one I'd rather have in my organization. But maybe the reality is that I just need to get better at hitting those pitches you mentioned.
    – CodeSeeker
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 2:26
  • I'm also thinking that there may be a point where feedback is so positive for everyone that it no longer serves as useful feedback. Software coding has objective aspects that make it impossible to always stick with "consider this" and "I've found that". Sometimes you have to just say "use a Frob here" even if the person overreacts to it, because that's a right way to solve that coding problem, and the way it was done was definitely a wrong way.
    – CodeSeeker
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 2:32
  • Last, code review that is provoking to a person could be a gift to them right back, right--to give them practice at handling mild criticism without taking it so personally, and to learn how to tolerate the discomfort of a confrontation to solve a relational problem. But I appreciate your comment as it did give me some more to think about from a different side of the issue.
    – CodeSeeker
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 2:32

Your best option in this case is to take the next code review where you have something to say and write up the comments and then run them by your boss to see if he thinks they are offensive. Do this for the next few code reviews, until he stops finding what you write to be offensive, or until he asks you to stop doing it. If the boss doesn't want to take the time, ask a trusted colleague. NOte that if you are angry at how stupidly something was done, it will likely come out in your tone, so be especially careful with any comments you write while you are annoyed or angry.

This accomplishes several things. First that you are taking the criticism seriously and are trying to not be offensive. Next, it shows the boss that your comments are, in general, fair (if they are) or gives him a chance to show you a better way before you offend another person. If the comments need help and you don't see what is wrong, clearing them before submitting is your best way to find that out and to learn how to improve them. If the other person is misinterpreting, then the boss can say that he approved the text of the comment if there is another complaint which will stop a snake who is trying to make you look bad in his tracks.

  • Eh, that sounds like a good way to annoy a superior. I don't thinks that's a good idea.
    – user30031
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 22:12
  • @DoritoStyle - That is a small risk, yes. But it's a good suggestion, especially if it's preceded by other suggestions in earlier answers (to ask manager for specifics), then it's the manager's fault. As a matter of fact, this approach should be suggested by OP during meeting with the manager. If the manager refuses both suggestions, stop being diligent about doing code reviews. On his head be any issues you don't bother catching.
    – user13655
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 13:57
  • "stop being diligent about doing code reviews. On his head be any issues you don't bother catching." I doubt things would turn out that way in the real world. The blame and paper-trail will point squarely at OP alone and they will bear the disciplinary action.
    – user30031
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 20:38
  • Eh, that sounds like a good way to annoy a superior. @DoritoStyle The answer addresses that with, If the boss doesn't want to take the time, ask a trusted colleague. which is what their boss is likely to suggest anyway. If they don't want to do it they'll say so. I don't think there's a huge risk in asking and it makes sense to go to them first since they have a better idea of what the problem is.
    – BSMP
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 14:39

Take it as a chance to improve the way you communicate your opinions on others' code. Instead of believing that this was intended to reprimand you of your behavior, think of it as a soft prodding that you should be mindful of not just what you say in a code review, but how you say it in a code review.

I know from experience that reviews are meant to be egoless and that we don't single out any one person, but it's still people writing the code. Take the chance to ask your manager or lead how they'd have responded to code you found less favorable, and simply improve from there. Make it a focus point for you to build on as opposed to it being something (potentially) negative.

  • Won't that make your comments less effective for people who prefer the reviews to be critical? In my experience, most programmers are that way. So perhaps to coddle one quirky person, you're suggesting to deal with everyone else in a way that may be less effective? Some people even respond best to snark. Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 17:14
  • @DavidSchwartz: As a developer, I can say that there are ways to be critical of one's work which don't make you sound like a jerk. It takes a fine, delicate balancing act, and the important thing is to remember that we as developers will still feel some kind of way about criticism of our work. From what I got from the OP, it was a matter of their criticism being interpreted as an attack on the reviewee, which is why the words one says should be carefully metered out. It's one thing to call out bad code, but it's quite another to call out a person because of their bad code.
    – Makoto
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 17:36
  • I agree. But it's not the case that one of those approaches is always better than the other. Different people respond better to different approaches. Obviously, the person who responds well to "You are a useless fool" is rare indeed. But some people really do respond better to snarky comments, finding they take the edge off, while some people find them insulting. A general push in one direction is not necessarily going to make things better and it may make his relations with some developers worse. Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 18:18

tl;dr start a conversation in the office, if not about this incident, then about openness and room for feedback.


Assuming you're asking for help, I see two questions implied in the statement Want to make things right, don't know with whom.

The first question is how do I make things right?, the second one is who is giving me feedback? (although you don't use the word 'I')

For the second question, you don't need to be on internet, rather go back to your office, and start asking the questions there. How would we know :-), we don't work there, right? Things like this should be quickly handled, out in the open and cleared up, because feedback is always about behavior (what you do), never about the person, so it should be no issue to be open and talk about it.

The first question can imply two things: 1. although someone took the effort to give you feedback (giving feedback about negative consequences is usually harder) you don't feel like you are wrong, and want to make it right by explaining that to the person or other people (or here...) 2. you know what you did wrong, you want to find an appropriate excuse and are asking tips for an appropriate excuse (i.e. do you give cake (even though the cake is a lie), do you say sorry, do you explain your intentions when you give code feedback).

If I read your detailed description for the question, you are building a case for option 1.

But to answer your last question what should I do?. I would just take charge and explain you want to learn; engage in the conversation with the person who told you this feedback from someone else, instead of trying to investigate quietly. And that if this person has feedback, it won't hurt you or anyone else, just be open. Position yourself, when you engage in conversation, as open to any feedback, and the person that was not wanting to address you directly will probably feel more safe.


Asides from the other answers such as Vietnhi Phuvan's, which already do a good job of explaining what to do in general, this is specific to a code review:

  • make sure you are only reviewing the code as-is, and don't let the author ever come into the picture for any reason - you may criticize the code, but not the author
  • if the code has an error, note it, and then move on - don't linger once something that is against the code has been found, don't pile on if someone else mentioned it first - the point of a code review is to spot errors, once that has been done, carry on
  • don't try to suggest improvements or fixes during the code review - if it meets the standards, then it is fine - improving the coding standards at your organization because they forgot to include something is not something that should be done at a code review

lastly, was there a facilitator to keep the code review on-track? If so, I would ask the manager to talk with the facilitator and see if they can give you any advice as far as how to perform a code review in the future.


My answer is a bit of a synthesis of ideas present in some earlier answers, and I apologize for plagiarism. The main point of this answer is a comprehensive approach with a waterfall of options.

As a preface, I'm assuming you perform a lot of code reviews.

First of all, request a follow-up meeting with the manager, with the agenda being improving code reviews.

At this meeting:

  1. Indicate that you took the feedback to heart

  2. Specifically state that you went over prior code reviews and honestly were unable to spot a problematic comment, and to improve you are asking guidance from him.

  3. Go through the waterfall of possible requests from you and responses from him, as outlined below

  4. If the manager is not meaningfully helpful (refuses the meeting, or says it's your problem not his, refuses to provide any specifics or even a pattern, refuses to oversee your comments, etc...), then simply stop being a diligent code reviewer.

    Don't go above and beyond. Do the bare minimum of work in review to ensure you won't be accused of having lax diligence.

    • Highlight problems that are actual obvious bugs that can be blamed on you as a reviewer. That's it. Bugs are easy to comment on in fully neutral terms ("this code will do X, Y and Z bad things in conditions A, B and C. please consider addressing this. Thanks")
    • Don't use the reviews as teaching tools, which is what good reviewers do.
    • Don't use reviews to improve style, architecture, or to solve long term problems in the code.

Now, as to what you may want to ask at the meeting (after indicating you both took his feedback to heart AND went to the effort of trying to see where you erred):

  1. Ask if there is a pervasive pattern of a problem of hurtful comments from you, or this was a one-off issue. If there's a pattern, it could be feedback from specific individual (but many cases) or from many people on the team.

    • If there is a pervasive pattern from multiple people, your manager should be able to, at worst, point out the pattern to you precisely, or at best, point out specific examples of bad comments without worrying about singling any complainant out. Ask him for such pattern/examples.

    • If there's a pattern but only 1 person of many complains, ask the manager if they agree with complains. If they do, again, he should be able to at least enounciate the pattern even if he doesn't name the person or show specific comment.

    • If it is a one-off, ask what was so egregious that one comment out of (presumably) hundreds rated an escalation to the manager. Chances are, there are deeper issues here at play and this is just an excuse. May be they want to push you off the team/company and using this as an excuse. May be someone has a beef against you and couldn't find anything more to hang on you. May be someone overreacted, your manager decided to be accommodating to ensure easy life for himself at your expense, and now can't walk things back.

      If he refuses to offer the pattern for the first 2 bullet points, or if he refuses to even answer whether there is a pattern, see #2 below and treat #1 as "manager was not cooperative", when you decide whether you should disengage as a reviewer as per above high level advice.

  2. Suggest that going forward, he reviews your comments and flags any that seem "hurtful".

    If he agrees, you CYAed any issues (he takes responsibility).

    If he disagrees, treat #2 as "manager was not cooperative", when you decide whether you should disengage as a reviewer as per above high level advice.

  3. As an alternative to #2, suggest that another person who's an established code reviewer and whose opinion you truest, review your comments and flag any that seem "hurtful".

    The upside is that, again, it's CYA, and moreover, if there are other code reviewers but he can't point out one whose comments are never "hurtful", it's an indication this is about someone disliking you and not about your actual comments.

    The downside is, this will be hurtful to your ego, and may ding your reputation a bit.

    If he disagrees without a good reason, treat #2 as "manager was not cooperative", when you decide whether you should disengage as a reviewer as per above high level advice.

  4. Ask for independent second opinion. Indicate that you'd like someone whose judgement both you and your manager trust review the comments - probably someone from another team.

    That way, the manager has no excuse that he doesn't want personal confrontation when he refuses to show specific comment to you.

P.S. Having said that, there are obvious ways to make code review comments objectively less personal and thus less legitimately hurtful.

I posted one example of a good style of comment to achieve that at the start of the answer.

I'm sure there are TONS of specific guides on how to do that, but I suspect "how do I make my comments less personal and hurtful in the future" is outside the scope of what you're asking - and for that matter, are more ontopic on SDLC than on Workplace.SE

  • -1 Intentionally not performing up to one's ability in any task, other than a calculated sacrifice to do something better, is always a poor decision, in any industry. Languishing in any position, even a poor fit with poor leadership, will always impact the employee, even if (unlikely) it affects the company/leadership more. If in fact, the above described (one time) situation were to reveal an untenable situation (I personally disagree), diligent efforts can be focused elsewhere, and 'sacrificing' diligence for, say, a diligent job search, mentoring, volunteering, would be better suggestions.
    – CWilson
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 21:50

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