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Often when I'm coding and I crush a bug that I've been battling for a few hours I like to throw my hands in the air and sigh a small YES. Are these small celebrations seen by people as unprofessional?

I am a younger worker and in the different places I've worked/interned doing this has received different reactions:

  • Getting ignored (which is totally okay)
  • Comments saying that my enthusiasm will die away eventually (I don't think it will)
  • A coworker will ask what I did and offer me a congrats
  • A silent high five or two

Generally these reactions have been positive, and been from small teams of <10 people.

Are there any rules of thumb that should be followed in these circumstances?

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    Whatever doesn't disturb those working around you seems fine. – Snowlockk Jun 15 '17 at 14:10
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Jun 17 '17 at 12:54
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+50

This is so common among coders as to almost be a cliché, and even termed a "coder's victory". I do it all the time and so do my colleagues. We usually just grin, knowing the feeling.

Not only is it not wrong, it keeps the flow of energy going and the enthusiasm up, and generally seen as a positive. Unless this becomes disruptive, don't worry about it.

While it's not unique to IT, I wouldn't do it outside of an IT environment unless I knew they had similar celebrations. Just don't do it loudly, you'll be fine.

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    Not unique to IT, I've seen some of the admin staff do a happy stretch and get a piece of candy from the dish when they, e.g., get a horrible mail merge sorted out or something. – user3067860 Jun 15 '17 at 17:00
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    Can confirm. I am a coder, and I do this all often. It always gives me a little boost in my day. – EvSunWoodard Jun 15 '17 at 17:51
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    I've been programming professionally for 19 years now. I just did this 5 minutes ago. I was only slightly disappointed that no one noticed; it was a tricky bug I fixed. – Bradley Uffner Jun 15 '17 at 18:09
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft are you suggesting that IT people are not human? – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jun 15 '17 at 18:46
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    Usually my coding success goes "Are you ****ing kidding me? That was causing... omg it works now... picks up cell phone Hi honey, yeah I'm on my way home. Yeah it was something stupid." But I suppose a fist pump and a cheer works too. – corsiKa Jun 16 '17 at 6:59
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I would consider this actually a healthy practice. Often people see problems on that large scale and ignore the individual tiny victories in life. It is important to celebrate the little daily victories which helps our overall sense of accomplishment and positive outlook in life. This should not only help you out but also inspire others to think of their small victories as something work celebrating.

The only thing to be mindful of is consideration of others and that you aren't shouting and disrupting everyone around you. So long as it's just arm movements and a sigh of relief I don't see any issue whatsoever.

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Are these small celebrations seen by people as unprofessional?

I am a younger worker and in the different places I've worked/interned doing this has received different reactions

As you have seen for yourself, these things are always contextual.

In some shops small celebrations are common. One writer I know, Johanna Rothman, even uses the phrase "inch pebbles" (as opposed to milestones) for such small victories.

In other shops a more sedate approach is common.

And sometimes it's a temporal thing. A company that is in the middle of layoffs may not want to see anyone celebrating.

Get a sense of what is typical in your organization and celebrate accordingly.

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    A company in the middle of layoffs should be thankful I'm there and happily working and not at an interview jumping ship. If there's any place that needs little morale boosters, its a company going through layoffs. – Gabe Sechan Jun 16 '17 at 5:47
  • +1 for "inch pebbles". It keeps these sort of things in perspective. – Guy Schalnat Jun 16 '17 at 13:18
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    @GabeSechan Just don't cheer as someone is cleaning their desk, tho. – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Jun 16 '17 at 18:10
  • At one place the survivors celebrated with a customized "We're Still Here" cake after a round of "right-sizing". – Spehro Pefhany Jun 19 '17 at 3:12
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Not only is that sort of thing common and normal, but it's a great opportunity to learn from each other. Every time one of my colleagues and I overcome a particularly annoying roadblock or problem, we get happy and tell the others nearby what the problem was and how we solved it. The other people listening will usually express appreciation and will sometimes ask questions about it so that they can learn about what happened.

Often one of us will encounter something similar at a later time, and we'll be able remember that person X had the same problem and overcame it. We'll either remember what person X did to solve the problem or we can go ask person X to remind us what they did to solve the problem. It's saved us lots of time and trouble.

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Another answer hinted on this, but the most important thing here is that you're not distracting or disruptive.

That applies for this, specifically, but also generally in the workplace :)

Aside from that, you should be fine, and may even have a positive impact on other people's attitudes, having seen others in such good moods.

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