Relationship Advice From The FCC

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 of 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’m saying that we have to put up with a dangerous situation at home or work, I’m not suggesting that. But let’s 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 flak, 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, its manufacturer 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 goes by the other direction listening to their death metal on an FM Transmitter on the same frequency, I have to deal with it. My device (like theirs) is supposed to receive interference and deal.

Wouldn’t It Be Neat

If the world operated that way? If we worked that way more consistently. Next time I am discussing something 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.

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 be surprised at the results, too.

Imagine a workplace where it was a little tougher to offend colleagues, a little more challenging 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 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 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 negligent with their duties. If a dangerous situation exists, if wrong decisions are being made with no input being received, etc., we have a responsibility to speak up. Still, hopefully, we’ve done our part and kept our interference low.

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