I always feel pressure and embarrassment when doing code reviews. What should I do?

One of the best things you can do is discuss how you feel with your manager. A good manager will help you overcome your problems. That’s what they’re supposed to do. When somebody on a team has a problem, then it can affect the whole team. Removing obstacles like this helps everybody. It’s possible that your problems are due to another teammate. That’s something that your manager can help with too. If you have a team or even a single person on a team that reacts strongly and loudly to anything other than glowing praise, then it’s going to be difficult to review code. It’s the job of the manager to correct problems like this too.

One thing you can do if you’re just joining a new team is to read previous code reviews. Get a feel for how other team members express themselves and how they react. Many times, a misunderstanding is caused just because we can mistake a person’s normal behavior as being directed at us instead. Reading old code reviews will help you learn who is shy, who is outspoken, who responds well to questions, and who needs facts.

We’re all different and there’s a common lesson taught in early grade school called the golden rule. It says to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Unfortunately, that rule is backwards. Following it can sometimes work and sometimes cause even more problems. Remember, we’re all different. That’s the key. Don’t treat people the way you want to be treated. Treat them the way they want to be treated. Within reason, of course.

What I mean is, let’s say that you like direct, to-the-point communication. If it’s wrong, you’d rather somebody just tell you right away even if the whole team knows. This lets you fix it and move on. Another person might be horrified by this and may prefer a question to give them time to think about it and change their mind on their own. If you try to treat others the way you want to be treated, then you’re almost certain run into problems that are unrelated to any technical code review points.

Listen to this episode to hear my thoughts on the following questions about code reviews:

  1. What if I’m too busy with my own work?
  2. What if I don’t find anything wrong?
  3. What if I don’t find all the problems?
  4. What if I suggest something that turns out to be wrong?
  5. What if somebody else finds something I should have caught?
  6. What if I catch a mistake that the developer should not have made?
  7. What if this is not the first time for the same problem?
  8. What if the developer pushes back?
  9. What if my comments are ignored?
  10. What if my comments cause hard feelings?