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Posted on: Saturday, 31 July 2010 by Rajiv Popat

Nasty emails that are condescending and / or simply supposed to trigger meaningless arguments are all over the place in the software development world. Some of the best builders I have worked with often think of these as fouls  and believe that you cannot win a game by scoring a foul in answer of another foul.

Given that you are dealing with other human beings and given that you are yourself going to act like an asshole every once in a while without even knowing that you are doing that, chances are that you are always going to face a turmoil regarding the thoughts that you want your brain to focus on and the thought that your brain actually focuses on.

You want to focus on the facebook integration for your product and think about it.

But then, are you truly focusing on it?

Fred is acting like a hardcore asshole. The suit, who you report to has suddenly started acting like a jerk. There are three emails in your mail box that you are just itching to respond. You can shatter the sender of all these three emails right now. All you need to do is hit the reply to all button and slam your keyboard with your fingertips for five minutes.

You are thinking about responding to those emails when you truly want to think about facebook integration.

Aren't you? Huh? Huh? Huh?

Paul Graham has a rather interesting take on the topic. He explains:

Turning the other cheek turns out to have selfish advantages. Someone who does you an injury hurts you twice: first by the injury itself, and second by taking up your time afterward thinking about it. If you learn to ignore injuries you can at least avoid the second half.

I've found I can to some extent avoid thinking about nasty things people have done to me by telling myself: this doesn't deserve space in my head.  I'm always delighted to find I've forgotten the details of disputes, because that means I hadn't been thinking about them.

My wife thinks I'm more forgiving than she is, but my motives are purely selfish.

Some attacks are best defended by funny twitter hash-tags, some are just not worth responding to and some are not even worth thinking about, because all they do is clutter your brain and occupy precious processing time which could have been otherwise used processing way more fun filled ideas that would help you move forward. Thinking of how you are going to respond to Fred? I suggest throwing the idea out and not giving Fred your precious processing time.

Go reserve your processing time for something more meaningful that is going to add some genuine value and ultimately matter in the long run.

I wish you good luck.