There is nothing wrong with asking someone who knows, or could possibly know. Don’t let the fear of tech stop you from moving forward.
I have experienced this myself; sometimes, when asking a question, the person being asked turns it into a power game, trying to install a situation of superior and inferior. The best way to deal with power games is by not engaging.
Unfortunately, these things still happen to some of us, and they hurt our feelings. However, I want you to understand that this isn’t about you. If someone tries to force you into a situation of superiority, you can assume that this person is trying to cover up something. A seeming superiority always covers up a perceived inferiority.
To put you more into a position of confidence when approaching a Techie for help, I’d like to point out some helpful ideas on how to receive the help you need, and how to best deal with Techies if you are not a Techie.
How to Approach a Techie for Support
Many software vendors offer support service, where you can call or email a helpdesk staff and ask for help with your problem. Not all support requests are equal, and a support staff is, of course, eager to get as much information as possible to appropriately respond to a problem. There’s nothing more frustrating to a helpdesk person than having to go back and forth and asking the minimum required questions. — To get you the required attention and remedy quickly, here are some tips on how to best approach someone with expertise:
- Don’t write a support request that says nothing. Statements, like “It doesn’t work” are not helpful at all for the person on the other end.
- To start with, be precise about what you are trying to achieve (your goal). Bring in some details, so that the support person can understand what you are trying to achieve.
- If you have received an error message, include it into the support request. When it’s a very long error code, it’s best to make a screenshot. Otherwise type it down.
- Be specific about what you already tried to solve the problem.
- Nowadays, a browsers cache seems to be a common source for software problems. If you can clear the cache before you write the support request and tell them that you did that already, you might have reduced one round of the email ping-pong game already
- Most software vendors (or whatever it is you are having a technical issue with) have a help section where the most common problems are answered. Have a look into the troubleshooting section; chances are that your problem is listed there already. – If you haven’t found a solution there, you can of course quickly mention that you were pro-active and tried to look it up. This is a good way to tell them what you’ve already done and make it easier for them to recognize your skill level, and it will shape how they respond. The advantage is that both sides can eliminate wasted words going back and forth, and focus on finding the solution faster.
- Take some extra time to explain the detailed context. It’s particularly useful to provide some extra information. Depending on what you are requesting support with, extra information could be:
- The software versions,
- General settings
- URL of your website
- The theme your WP website uses
- Active plugins on your WP website
- Your host’s name, setup (shared, managed, distributed hosting) and what hosting plan you have, etc.
Dealing with Frustrations
Even though you may be really frustrated with something that doesn’t work, do your best to refrain from writing an insulting request for help. I wish I didn’t have to say this, but some people are prone to being taken away by their emotions. Always remember there’s another human being on the other side that has feelings too. A strong worded email isn’t going to motivate them; neither will it make them feel sorry for you or for a product that is not working.
What to be Prepared for when Dealing with a Techie
Now that I have pointed out a few steps that should make it easier for you to get in touch with a support staff by email, I’d like to come full circle and give you a few tips how to deal with a techie in person, whether that’s on the phone or face to face.
For an empathic techie, it is incredibly rewarding when they manage to successfully explain a technical issue to a non-technical person. It is often the beginning of a lasting customer relationship, but besides that: it’s a win-win situation, and rewarding for both sides.
A techie usually doesn’t know where you stand, and will ask you a few questions to “localize” you.
My advice for you: From the first few words you exchange with someone, you can already tell how empathetic and tuned in a person is. Listen to your gut feeling about whether this person can be trusted, and if yes, have the courage to be honest and ask your burning questions – even if that renders you vulnerable. Don’t pretend to know more than you actually do. A techie with empathic skills will strive to learn as much as possible about you, and will respond empathetically.
Ask for something simpler
It’s not always easy for a Techie to find the right language for its audience. If you don’t understand what is being explained because your counterpart uses acronyms or abbreviations or seems to speak in a different language, it really is ok for you to say so and ask for a simpler explanation. It’s a matter of alignment, and a good Techie will be happy to make adjustments as necessary.
Check your understanding
A techie knows that it is often helpful to explain something in more than one way when talking to a non-technical person. Don’t be shy, and encourage your counterpart to do so. You can start by either raising questions yourself by making analogies, or ask whether you understood that correctly. Or, you could ask for supporting materials, like screenshots, numbered lists, reference articles, or other documents.
Over to You
If you want to go deeper into the matter, you can subscribe to my free email course ‘How to Conquer Tech Fear’ and get some very valuable strategies at hand at how to overcome what is holding you back.
You can also get in touch with me for a clarity session. I am one of these empathetic techies – and in these Clarity Sessions I help people figuring out what technological infrastructure works best for their needs. Sometimes I help with pointing out a set of useful tools, sometimes I recommend an approach for a business process, sometimes I take away the fear of doing things wrongly – and sometimes it’s all of them. If you would like a perspective “from a techie”, don’t hesitate and schedule a consultation with me.
Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear back whether these tips have been helpful for you or not. You can leave a comment below and share with me what your biggest obstacles are with your fear of tech.
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