Peeves, Pitfalls and Pickles: Part 5
© Douglas E. Welch 1997
It is important to remember that personality conflicts are not
all on the side of the computer user. Sometimes, there are people
whose attitudes and operating style disclude them from any position
in technical support or other positions where they must deal regularly
Knowing it all
One of the most dangerous attitudes that a computer support person
can adopt is that of know-it-all. When a user calls in for support
they are already putting themselves at risk. No one likes to be
thought of as stupid or even ignorant but this is exactly what
a user is admitting when they call. There is not need for a support
person to reinforce these feelings of inadequacy. No one gains
from that type of power play.
It is important to assure that user that this problem has happened
to others before and will probably happen to others in the future.
Clearly and quietly walk the user through the solution and insure
that they understand how to solve the problem, should it occur
Support requires patience and understanding. Making a user feel
stupid will only assure an even great estrangement between users
and support staff. Never demean the user. This might seem obvious
but I have seen many support people who treat users as if they
are bothering them. The unspoken communication is "I have much
more important work to do and I can't believe you are bothering
me with your piddling question."
Simple user questions should be given as much attention, time
and care and the more difficult ones. The goal is always to help
the user be self-sufficient but every user requires a different
amount of hand-holding and training before they reach that point.
If support people are reaching the point of burnout and cannot
give the user the attention they need and deserve, they should
quickly be shuttled to another role in the department where they
have less direct contact with users. If not, their bad attitude
will begin to infect everyone's relations with users.
One of the most effective methods for understanding users is simply
thinking back to the time when you didn't understand certain computer
issues, It may be difficult since most of us have a natural aptitude
for computers but all of us had a time when we were struggling
users. Call on these memories to help you in your relationship
with users. Put yourself in their shoes and also consider the
additional stress of learning about computers while actually performing
a full-time job. Most of us probably had the luxury of learning
in high school or college when the demands on us were significantly
In the end is all comes down to one phrase, "Be kind!"
There are goblins lurking around every door in computer careers.
Hopefully this months articles have helped to expose a few and
can help you avoid them in the future.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant
in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with
other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on
Douglas' web page at: http://home.earthlink.net/~dewelch/
He can reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org