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I miss psychological safety. I'll define it as the willingness to be vulnerable to criticism and the belief that contrary opinions are embraced and judged on their merit.

When I first entered the startup scene my manager had exceptional candor. He had no qualms talking about how kids and personal projects caused his investment in his work to wax and wane.

He always made time to talk to me when I was frustrated and made me feel like he truly listened to what I had to say, even if he didn't act on it.

At the time, I attributed the safety to the company culture created by the CTO. The startup failed and eventually, I found my way to that CTO's next startup.

Completely different experience. I find myself in despair as I hear "I'm more senior and therefore am right and don't have time or interest in your ideas" blatantly stated.

When I disagree with people, I try to ask clarifying questions to identify where the divergence occurs. Sometimes I'm surprised and learn something new, sometimes my questions prompt reconsideration.

With the CTO (now CEO), we go in circles where he squirms, deflects, and outright refuses to respond to my questions. He cancels 75% of 1:1's and when we do talk he suggests that if I disagree I "should introspect which of my beliefs is holding me back from embracing his superior way of doing things"

Multi-hour slack wars suck the life out of anyone trying to ask questions. It's so exhausting to ask questions it's often cheaper and faster to wallow in despair for an hour and hack something together than descend into people shouting preferences at each other and shaming me for not already knowing the answer.

Perks, pay, and tech-stack are all cool. It feels selfish to be unhappy because I can't innovate or challenge the status quo. Having tasted that safety though, I'm left with an unquenched thirst that grows stronger with every conflict.

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