My uncle used to say “If a man tells you that his car squirts milk in his eye when you lift the hood, don’t bet against that. You’ll end up with milk in your eye.” My friend Allen White tells me this is taken from a play (and was said about playing cards), but I think the sentiment holds, even in database work.
I mentioned the other day that you should allow the other person to talk and actively listen before you propose a solution. Well, I saw a consultant “bet against the impossible” the other day – and it bit her. She explained to the person telling her the problem that the situation simply couldn’t exist that way, and he proceeded to show her that it did. She got silent, typed a few things, muttered a little, and then said “well, must be something else.” She just couldn’t admit she was wrong.
So don’t go there. If someone explains a problem to you with their database, listen with purpose, and then explore the troubleshooting steps you know to find the problem. But keep your absolutes to yourself.
In fact, I have a friend that has recently sent me one of those. He connects to a system with SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) version 2008 (if I recall correctly) and it shows a certain version number of the target system in the connection tab. Then he connects to it using SSMS 2008 R2 and gets a different number. Now, as far as I know, we didn’t change the connection string information, and that’s provided by the target system, so this is impossible.
But I won’t tell him that. Not until I look a little more. :)