10 tenets of working in IT – Tenet 5, Be Human

Introduction

Techies, rightly or wrongly, sometimes get labelled as being unfriendly robotic nerds. I make that as an open statement because I know fellow colleagues who fit that bill and others who are extremely empathic to those who struggle with certain aspects of technology.

Be human

The key is to understand your audience and what it is that they want from the transaction (a word I use here to cover any communication you have with them, whether written, spoken or just frowning at each other). Not everybody you speak to will understand the intricacies of route maps or how an L2L VPN session is set up. Quite often, they won’t even care. Here is a point you have to understand if you don’t want to die alone:

Not everybody wants to know what you know. Certainly not to the level that your enthusiastic soul would like to go to!

De-geek for customers, colleagues, management, family\friends or whoever. Learn how to craft your conversations around their needs and not yours. What you see as a knowledge gap might be a chasm to somebody else. Don’t always try to fill it in. It can be difficult to gauge this, but asking questions back can give helpful results e.g. asking what experience they have on the topic being discussed, or asking a loaded question, the response to which will let you know what technical level to pitch at. This is where listening skills come to the fore.

Key tip number 2 should certainly be:

Kill the acronyms

Acronyms can be scary. Even to techies. Perhaps, even more so to techies if they aren’t understood, as there is the assumption that you should know every acronym that ever has and ever will be thought up. If you hear the other party use acronyms and they appear to be in context, then sprinkle the conversation with your own to match the level of all parties.

Summary

Most of us deal with people outside of the technology coal mine, at least from time to time. It is important that we can converse with people at all levels, in language that they understand so that they go away knowing exactly what it is that they need to know and not looking like a confused Leslie Nielsen. It is when people leave us feeling they have the answers they were looking for, that a bond of trust forms from which, hopefully, productivity increases. As a bonus, we might even lose the soulless robot image.

Till the next time.

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