This week was strange for me, to put it mildly. First a product manager from 1 of the biggest competitors from the company I work for wants to follow me on Twitter and earlier this week a person actually managed to annoy/frustrate me.
For people who had the disadvantage to know me personally, they would know it’s not very easy to do that… so my compliments to the guy! 😉
Then I started to realize something… many IT-Pro’s feel that users are frustrating them. They are not in any way driven by knowledge, and so it can be very challenging to talk to them and try to explain something which seems way out of their league, right?
Wrong! Read on why…
In my case it had nothing to do with my work, but nevertheless I could imagine that the annoyance was about the same 😉
Now let’s take this and create a simple list:
User –> Power User –> System Administrator –> System Engineer –> Consultant –> Vendor –> Product Architect
Since a vendor cannot exist without users that use their product, they are all interdependent! One cannot exist without the other… call it a “Circle of life” if you will.
As I’m writing this post, I’m watching Star Wars 1… to quote Qui-Gon (Liam Neeson):”There is always a bigger fish”.
Another way of thinking about this:
People can ask me IT-related stuff… but please don’t ask me how create a paycheck! With taxes this, taxes that, insurance and more stuff like that. For something like that I will go to someone who actually knows how to do that.
It is likely that also goes the other way around. My accountant can fill in the paperwork, but when his laptop crashes he comes to me… he does not know how to fix it.
In short: Everyone has their respective field in which they operate, acquire experience and knowledge. Respect that, and in that way also respect their lack of knowledge when it comes to your field of experience!
Anyway, I hope that you think of this post when you talk to someone that annoys you for their lack of knowledge. It’s not their lack of knowledge that is the problem, but your lack of empathy!
Not a technical post, but I think it’s still useful for people who just started in IT… but also to the ones that are in there a bit longer… 😉
Jef, this is a great post! Being a user, it is a purgatory for me whenever my PC turns against me, and it does so with great ingenuity. Purgatory it is, because I know I will have to, sooner or later, call someone to help. Always trying to solve the problem myself, able to spend good deal of time trying to figure out the solution by myself (that oten “turns a small hole into a real abyss”, so to say:),I keep trying to avoid the inevitable: calling an expert. There are a lot of “PC help-line” jokes, I must confess some ARE immensely funny, especially the ones which end up with the unplugged PC or power failure as the core of troubles with the computer. Anyhow, when push comes to shove, it gives one a hard time to imagine the problem-solver coming, long face and sigh on the lips as a default setting. “Lack of empathy” really hits the point. One small comparison has come to my mind: Before taking the driving course, being a “mere” pedestrian, it took me ages to cross a street, looking any possible direction but left and right, talking to friends, good heaven even stopping in the middle of the road with a mobile to finish a call. After a little degustation of what this feels like from behind a steering wheel, no re-run of this is ever going to happen. Swithing the roles is many times quite didactic. Empathy is a wonderful thing, I am only a little worried that once an expert, it takes hard time to emphatize with the “tabula rasa”. But it is possible, because otherwise there would be no such post as the one above. Thank you.