Fran Varas Blog

The history of an incredibly curious guy

Dealing with non-technical people (at work)

Imaginary (yet very real) conversation with a "non technical"[5] person facing an IT problem v/s the standar IT nerd:

  • It's not working.
  • Did you reboot?
  • It's urgent.
  • Did you reboot?
  • Can you please come immediately, I really need to print this document.
  • Can you make a ticket describing the issue?
  • OH GOD, YOU NEVER LISTEN!!!! I HATE COMPUTERS AND IT NERDS

Let's make a break from this imaginary dialog. The conversation will usually go on and on until the user says the magic words that shield from responsability: "I'm not a technical person"

This is the moment when you win, forever. Don't waste it.

  • I'm not a technical person, I don't work in IT. I just need my problem to be fixed, dammit!

The first statement is a lie, and the second is (I hope) true. Maybe he's not simply lying, maybe the user is not aware of it technical skills.

  • You are not required to have IT skills for your role, so not having them is not an issue. You are -however- a skilled person that does a job that requires some sort of skills. The only thing we're asking you is to describe, as accurately as possible, the issue you are facing, to provide an overview of the impact it has on your current task.
  • But it's URGENT
  • Then, treat it as an emergency, don't waste your time. Imagine it's a highway accident, describe what you see and give as much information as you can, write it down on a ticket.

Bottom line: If you don't know how to deal with something, ask for help. Help does not mean that someone will do it for you. Not knowing how to do something does not mean you are not technical

[5] The forementioned persone may not be technical as in the engineering sense, but has certainly a set of skills that can be considered as technical. A nurse, a lawyer, a manager are higly technical roles.