Hi, Tom the Younger. It’s me, Tom the Elder. I’m writing you this note because there’s something you should know.

You’re a jerk.

Now, it’s not your fault you’re a jerk. But it is your problem. And the sooner you recognize you have this problem, the better.

I could write pages of examples to demonstrate how you have been a jerk. Doing so won’t solve the issue. Instead, I’m going to give you one piece of advice to help you stop being such a jerk.

There is one skill, above all others, most critical for success in any career. Once you learn this skill, you will stop being a jerk. Well, OK, maybe “stop” is a strong word. Let’s just say this skill will slow your roll a bit. You’ll be seen as a jerk less often.

This skill will open up new possibilities for you. It will remove roadblocks. It will make for better communication between you and your coworkers. Your family will benefit, too.

It’s a skill easy to learn, too. In fact, you’ve done it yourself at times. You just don’t do enough of it. But you have the power to change, starting now.


I want you to develop your sense of empathy for others.

No, I'm not talking about Commander Deanna Troi. She was empathic; there is a difference. I'm asking for you to develop empathy for the people in your life.

The best way to develop empathy is to talk to people. It’s easy to do! Heck, you’ve been interacting with other humans most of your life, as a teacher, a coach, a cook, and even a restaurant host.

And even now, as a junior software analyst, you’re interacting with people in a technical field. You will find that it doesn’t matter what the industry, people are the same everywhere. Talk to them. Find out their priorities, their concerns, their motivations.

When you develop a sense of empathy, you will find the nature of your conversations change for the better. Empathy is going to be the key for you to manage your relationships better. Because the corporate world is all about relationships.

Oh, one more thing. The world of tech is small. The people you work with now will cross your path again at some point. And they will remember how you made them feel.

So, learn some empathy, you jerk.

Before it’s too late for us.


Tom the Elder