Analytical 36: Familiarity

21 January, 2019


We dive into why familiarity seems to breed contempt, why first impressions are the most misleading and demonstrate my Latin is terrible.

Transcript available
[Music] Everything can be improved, iterated and refined. And if you don't think that's true, maybe you haven't analysed it enough. Calculated choices carefully considered absolutely analytical. This episode is brought to you by Clubhouse, the first project management platform for software development for development that brings everyone on every team together to build better products. Visit this URL, clubhouse or for more information. We'll talk more about them during the show. Analytical is part of the Engineer Network. To support our shows, including this one, head over to our Patreon page. And for other great shows, visit today. Familiarity. (speaking in foreign language) Okay, so my Latin is pretty shocking, give me a break, alright, okay, good, lovely. What I meant to say was familiarity breeds contempt while rarity wins admiration, or at least so said a Roman philosopher called Lucius Apuleius. I'm probably mangling that as well, never mind. I mean, that was a while back, admittedly, quite a while back. And honestly, have to say, doesn't really look like it's changed all that much since then. It's kind of a, it's an expression I've been fascinated with, the idea of it anyhow, for decades. I've thought, why does familiarity breed contempt? Why is that? And in the context of technical professionals, whether that's even managers or CEOs, people we listen to on, I don't know, TV, podcasts. Yeah. I don't know. Anyway, what we see and what we hear are just snippets of who and what they are. And a particular lens that I've struggled with is when you're interviewing somebody for a job, for example, it's all about putting, it's about them putting their best foot forward or at least trying to. So, once you've worked with someone though, for years closely, you have an opportunity to see how they react in a lot of different, varied situations. So, you end up learning a lot about their positives and their negatives, and in that sort of time-honoured human trait, we then tend to focus on things that either reinforce a narrative about that person, about pretty much anything really. If it's a positive opinion, then we'll remember more positives. If it's a negative opinion, we'll tend to focus on all the negatives about that person. So if a person really upsets you, really crosses you or does a few things and they really have quite frustrated you and you're upset, then you're going to focus on all the negatives. And you'll forget all the positives. Like, yeah, well, they've built, they've mended this bridge and they saved these people's, oh, that doesn't matter because he ran over my foot. You know, something like that. Obviously, you can also get the positive angle on that as well, but it tends to be more negative. And that's just unfortunately one of those human traits that we have. And the outcome of that is unfortunate. It leads essentially to a form, well, it leads to contempt. But another funny flip side that's sort of related to that in another, with another, yet another expression, since we're talking about expressions, first impressions are the most important. And it's friend, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Yeah. I mean, like, so that's great. Good. I mean, you only get one chance to die as well. But, you know, that's not really useful if it's like a lesson learned thing, because then you'd be dead. But I'm getting off track. What I mean is I'm sorry, I'm being dismissive for a reason. And the reason is it's total BS. I mean, it's not, but it is. When you say technically you only get one chance to make a first impression, well, that infers that first impressions are the most important and that's why I was comparing them together. But I've been learning more and more in my life personally not to trust first impressions. Just don't don't trust them. You can't trust them. Before we go on any further though, I'd like to talk about our sponsor for this episode and that's Clubhouse, the first project management platform for software development that brings everyone on every team together to build better products. Clubhouse was built from the outset with Agile development in mind, with an intense focus on intuitiveness and responsiveness. With their web app backed by Fastly CDN, it really feels like a local app on any platform. Clubhouse delivers developer-centric tools for everything from Kanban boards to epics, milestones, cards, with different card classifications for features, bugs and chores, but it's more Clubhouse's ability to interconnect all of them together that makes it so impressive. Users have reported creating less duplicates, navigation is very quick using a common board but with as many configurable workspaces as you like. To customize that board for whatever purpose you might need, for morning stand-ups, for different teams, sub-teams or all the teams, it's entirely up to you. Ultimately, any collaborative project management platform has to be as low friction as possible and not just for software developers but for everyone in the organization. It could be marketing, support, management, you name the lot of them. So everyone can contribute and actual collaboration actually happens. Finally, the other part of Clubhouse that really shines is its ability to zoom out from individual tasks to the overall project status. That not only keeps project managers happy, but it keeps the team connected to how their part contributes to the greater project and keeps them focused on what matters which is delivering a result their customers will enjoy. There are others in the market, but they're not like but they're not like Clubhouse. And what makes Clubhouse so different is the balance between the right amount of simplicity without sacrificing key functionality, structured to allow genuine cross-functional team collaboration on your project. Clubhouse is a modern software as a service platform with seamless integrations for popular tools like GitHub, Slack, Sentry, in fact, lots more. And if the tools that you want to use aren't integrated yet, out of the box, and extensible REST API in Clubhouse make integrations straightforward. If you visit this URL clubhouse or one the word, you can take advantage of a special offer for Engineered Network listeners. Of course, you'll get the 14 day free trial, but if you sign up, you'll get two months free. And because this is a team centric solution, this offer will work for your team as well, not just you. This offer is only available to Engineered Network listeners for a limited time, so take advantage of it while you can. Thank you to Clubhouse for sponsoring the Engineered Network. So again, you only get one chance to make a first impression infers that the first impression is the most important, but I've been learning more and more, you just can't trust them. I think the true motives can really only come out over a longer period of time. And that's the only real way to tell if someone has a sustained interest in something, how they feel about specific topics, whether their idiosyncrasies are problematic and ongoing or if they're fleeting. And I'd rather reframe those instead. First impressions are the most misleading, and every chance you meet someone is a chance to make a good impression. The sad truth though is that if you do "get off on the wrong foot" as they say and make a subpar first impression, if that person won't speak to you or give you any of their time following that, because of that, they failed to consider that maybe you had a bad day because you broke up with your significant other, your cat or your dog got out and you spent an hour getting it back that morning, a family member died, your favorite music band just broke up, they stopped making your favorite chocolate bar. I don't know anything, anything at all could have impacted your first impression. And someone that holds that against anybody is just plain ignorant, a bit self-deluded potentially, because that person, you have exactly the same problem yourself, because you have bad days. You mess up first impressions as well. So, you could actually say that the best times in any relationship with people personally or professionally is that period between a few interactions, you know, get over the first impression thing, until the contempt might set in. I think that's what they call a honeymoon period. Anyway, so let's review. Familiarity, contempt, first impressions and honeymoon periods. What's the point? Well, I suppose the point is that all of that, all of those opinions, they're all in our head. So, that person that we're interacting with, that we're interviewing for a job, that we're becoming friends with, that maybe will end up being our future life partner, you know, I don't know, maybe. That person's changing and learning and evolving just like you are. Well, hopefully you are. The point is that whether you're at the beginning where they can do no wrong in the middle or at the contempt end of the scale, they are just who they are and how you see them in what light is mostly due to your own biases, due to everything we just covered. So if we can understand that this is actually a human problem, maybe we can learn to just cut some other people some slack and let them be them and then you can be you and everything is fine. If you're enjoying Analytical and want to support the show, you can, like some of our is Carson Hanson and John Whitlow. They and many others are patrons of the show via Patreon and you can find it at or one word. Patreon rewards include a named thank you on the website, a named thank you at the end of episodes, access to raw detailed show notes as well as ad free high quality releases of every episode, so if you'd like to contribute something, anything at all, there's lots of great rewards and beyond that it's all really, really appreciated. Beyond Patreon there's also a PayPal for one-time contributions at but if you're not in a position to support the show that way, that's completely fine, there's lots of other ways you can help. Leave a rating or review on iTunes, favourite the episode in your podcast player app or share the episode or the show with your friends or via social. All of these things will help others discover the show and that can make a huge difference too. I'd personally like to thank Clubhouse for once again sponsoring the Engineered Network. If you're looking for an easy to use software development project management solution that everyone can use. Remember to specifically visit this URL clubhouse or to check it out and give it a try. It'll surprise you just how easy it can be. Analytical is part of the Engineered Network and you can find it at and you can follow me on the Fediverse at [email protected] or the network on twitter at engineered_net. We also have a YouTube channel with more content going live regularly for your convenience. Accept nothing, question everything. It's always a good time to analyze something. I'm John Chichie, thanks for listening. [MUSIC PLAYING]
Duration 11 minutes and 56 seconds Direct Download
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Episode Gold Producer: 'r'.
Episode Silver Producers: Carsten Hansen and John Whitlow.
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John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.