Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Hacker's Digest about Criticizing, Condemning and Complaining

For the next few professional development related posts, I am going to be giving my commentary on Dale Carnegie's book, How to Win Friends & Influence People.

In my mind, this book is a must read for every human being because no matter what job you're doing or with whom you're working, you will have to deal with another human being. This book describes many different ways about how to work with, deal with, and even succeed with people (see here), and I am going to give you my digest of the first chapter and the first chapter's principle: "Don't criticize, condemn, or complain."

So what does that principle mean in the real world? Essentially, it means learn to keep your mouth shut about other PEOPLE. I emphasize the world people because you can still completely disagree, reject, or criticize an idea without criticizing or condemning the person who proposed the idea. That is a skill that takes many, many years to learn and master but it's the difference between a good and great employee or a highly technical employee and the Technical Director of a company. So what does criticizing a person look like? "You're late", "You missed another meeting", "How could you say something like that?", "Who do you think you are?" and so on. Criticism of a person really comes down to making them the subject of the criticism rather than the direct or indirect object of the criticism. For example, what's the difference between, "You missed another meeting" and "Meetings in the future will benefit from your attendance." A couple things are different: one, the subject changed from 'you' to 'the meeting', two, the tone of the sentence switched from negative to positive. Instead of talking about a person's faults, why don't you recognize the improvement and positive impact that person could have on the meeting when they attend. This will make them feel welcomed and like they belong at that meeting; ultimately, people just want to belong.

I am grouping criticism and condemnation into the same group because I believe that condemnation is qualitatively the same as criticism and you can use whatever scaling factor or words to make their definitions equal. However, complaining can be very different. First off, no one likes people who complain constantly about their life, their kids, their spouse, their job, their knees, etc. however, complaining can be very cathartic for those who have the aforementioned afflictions and tend to process their emotional, mental, and physical pain verbally, thus, we have complainers. I don't believe complaining will get you anywhere professionally, especially in the hacking community, because our merit and community worth is rooted our desire to learn, struggle, and conquer challenging tasks, technologies, and processes in order to more completely understand the way somethings works and exploit it's design for our own use. So, how do we combat complaining especially when "my boss sucks", "I can't get a job", or "I'm not about that corporate life, man." The answer is hack yourself.

Yes, hack yourself. Find out how you work. Find out what makes you tick, get up in the morning, why you don't like certain foods, why you prefer the weather or climate that you do, why you're reading this blog, why you're living where you are, why you're with whomever you're with (friends, spouses, girlfriends/boyfriends). Fair warning: This takes work. This takes dedication and work. The results are all on you and how much you truly, truly want to know who you are. This is the only time you should run an Nmap scan with every option set so you can learn the most about the human box you're going to hack. Once you know yourself and know exactly how you work then, you can exploit buffer overflows in your psyche and take advantage of who you are rather than excusing who you are. For example, if you're a night owl, then do your best work at night when your mind is the most sharp. If you don't like the way you feel after eating take out chinese food, then stand up for yourself and suggest an alternative when your office or group of friends decides to go there. If you really feel energized by taking a bath after dinner, then plan to take a bath after dinner so you can be the optimal you that day.

Once you figure out how everything affects you, you can minimize the complaining in your life and start looking for exploits in yourself and your environment to improve yourself.

Work on recognizing when you criticize others, when others criticize others, and when others criticize you. Once you notice it, make a choice to not criticize or condemn others and include them in your professional life. You never know when someone might surprise you, and supporting them when they need it most will help everyone involved.

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