I never thought a government agency would teach me a life lesson. That was until I had a long drive to a client site and pondered the FCC label you see on electronics, motors, and the like…

I was listening to my Zune Pass music in the truck driving to a client a couple hours away. I don’t have an auxiliary input on the truck so I use an FM transmitter. While stuck in traffic, I wondered if I was harassing anyone’s favorite station and that got me thinking of the warning you see everywhere. That got me thinking, The FCC has it right! Why can’t we get it right more often?

That warning:

Can't give interference, only take it.

Relationship Advice From the FCC


Let’s Define Interference

Lest someone think I mean we have to put up with a dangerous situation at home or at work, I’m not suggesting that. But let’s just replace interference with “flak” or “offense” and we can probably replace “undesired operation” with “wounded pride” or perhaps “loss of productivity” or something…

“(1) this person may not throw harmful flake, and (2) this person must accept any flak received, including flak that may cause a wounded pride.”

So What Do I mean?

I mean if we look to the planks in our own eyes before pointing out the speck in someone else’s eye, to borrow from the Bible (Mat. 7:3 paraphrased), we’ll be onto something. If we care more about the interference we are throwing out into the world and less about the interference we receive we’d be happier. We’d get along better with SAN administrators, DBAs, Developers and maybe, just maybe, even Project Managers.

If someone tells me that my FM transmitter is stepping over their favorite radio station, the manufacturer of it is supposed to work to prevent it. I don’t know if the law passes to me, the owner, but if so, I am supposed to make it so that is no longer the case. But… If I am driving down the road listening to a favorite song and someone drives by the other direction listening to their death metal on an FM Transmitter on the same frequency, I just have to deal with it. My device (like theirs) is supposed to receive interference and just deal.

Wouldn’t It Be Neat

If the world operated that way? If we operated that way more consistently. Next time I am discussing something that is escalating into anger/offense/etc., this FCC law tells me that I’m supposed to accept that and look to make sure I’m not adding fuel to the fire. To make sure I’m not stepping on their toes (frequency) and if so? I am supposed to work on fixing my side. They may never fix their side but that isn’t my first concern under this law. My first concern is what I’m doing to others.

I think if we all followed that advice we’d find an ability to work a bit better together. We’d seek to change others by changing ourselves first. I think we’d really be surprised at the results, too.

Imagine a workplace where it was a little tougher to offend colleagues, a little tougher to be offended. Where we didn’t let pride turn lessons learned meetings into blame-storming sessions and we all worked for the best interests of each other and the task at hand.

That’s it. I’ll be back on the posting bandwagon soon. Since I decided to work for myself, I’ve been busier than I had imagined I would be in the first few weeks . I’m starting to get some hints of consistency and breathing space and I can get back on some technical posts and the series on learning from real disasters I introduced a while back.

Quick Disclaimer – I mean we should strive to follow the FCC advice above as best as we can; there are definitely situations in personal relationships and work relationships where it’s time to let the FCC (management, spouse, etc.) know that the other party has been totally negligent with their duties. If a dangerous situation exists, if bad decisions are being made with no input being received, etc. we have a duty to speak up but hopefully we’ve done our part and kept our interference low.

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