Software Testing, where conflict is normal

In our daily lives, conflict is generally viewed as undesirable. This could be true in our personal and professional relationships. However, while producing software, conflict and problem solving are key elements involved in enabling delivery of quality products. Organizations on their part must encourage constructive conflict while keeping in place a structure to manage conflict.

Lets face it, if you are the type who prefers a stress-free, non-confrontational role, then software testing is not for you. Software testing is not just about having the requisite technical competencies and analytical skills to perform testing. Software Testers need a bunch of soft-skills and a form of mental make-up that can enable them to survive and thrive amidst conflict. If you like being out in the front, dealing with conflict, are not worried about how folks will react to the information you convey, then you could be on the way to being a software tester. Software Testers must not shy away from taking up an adversarial position … when required.

Software Testers report problems. Testers are the bearers of "bad news". The recipients of the news may react in a myriad different ways which could be ego-deflating, sarcastic or plain rude.  Software Testers need to walk a fine line between being overly jingoistic about the issues they have observed / being judgmental or going soft / worrying if they should invite conflict by even relaying information about the issue.

For new software testers, their initiation into the process of finding a defect and reporting it can be an experience to remember. Over time, as testers discover more defects of differing severities, they become more confident about their own abilities while building a rapport with developers. Instead of viewing the inherent conflict as confrontational, testers begin to engage in meaningful discussion about problems identified and addressing them. All software testers will experience some form of push back from their development counter parts. This is not bad and can actually be very healthy. When either side (software testing or software development) simply agrees with what the other says without debating and clarifying the issue, it could be a sign that something's amiss. A certain degree of healthy conflict and debate will help in thorough analysis of issues being reported and development of better quality solutions.
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