Devil’s Advocate

As someone in a fairly technical field, a big part of my job is to figure out why something broke. Sometimes, that’s the entirety of it. And when that’s your job, it helps to think of every possible explanation as fast as possible, even if they’re implausible. One time, I spent several hours trying to fix a broken header file include only to discover that it was because of a missing semicolon in a different file. The only reason I found it was because I started thinking of increasingly unlikely things that might cause the problem.

Unfortunately, this tendency carries over into my real life as well. Whenever someone brings up something, I tend to play Devil’s advocate and come up with all sorts of other explanations. I’m not even conscious of it but I know I’ve always done it.

The problem is that people are not computers. And when they talk about problems, it’s not always because they need to get fixed. Sometimes it’s more important to just hear what the other person has to say.

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