How to Get A Geek To Speak English

Office Person: Hey, IT guy, can you get my computer working?

Install Tech (IT) Guy: Well, what is the problem?

Office Person: I don’t know! It’s slow when I try to get to the internet.

IT Guy: (evil smile) It could be a few things…Have you cleaned out your RAM or checked to see if your cache is getting too full? Then again, it could just be that the bandwidth on your T1 connection is full and can’t handle the load of data. Run a diagnostic test, defrag your hard drive, and call me in the morning if it’s still slow…

If conversations with your IT department have gone something similar to this before then you know what is it like to be totally lost in a conversation. Geeks are geeks for a reason–they eat MBs and MHz for breakfast. Their language is full of acronyms that you and I will never fully understand. So, in a world where we all rely on IT to get through our busy schedules, what is the trick to getting geeks to speak plain English? Respect!!!

When I was working for a telecom company a few years back, I was just a young 21 yr old who was learning the ropes. The average sales rep age was over 38, so I felt a little out of place. They were talking about the old days when it all was so simple and one company did it all. Anyway, during one of those conversations a desk phone rang and the rep got a pissed look on his face. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “The $%@# IT Guy pissed off another one of my customers!” was his angry reply. We all got paid residual commissions on clients we had sold in the past. It was a great way to build a bigger paycheck. Unless, of course, there was a huge communication gap between your IT department and client.

When the install tech returned from the site visit the rep went up to him and just blasted him, calling him worthless and so on. The IT guy came back and explained how the rep had done his paperwork incorrectly, so the IT got caught between a rock and a hard place because he didn’t have the right equipment to fix the problem. The sales rep kept on blasting and the IT guy fired right back saying how lazy the sales reps were….blah, blah, blah, you can see where I’m going.

From this situation I learned a very important lesson: don’t bite the hand that feeds you (in this case the IT guy). He was responsible for keeping the service I sold up and working. The better the service, the better my paycheck. So what did I do?

During the slow period of the day I would go back to the IT room and just sit and talk and ask questions. I learned their names and personalities, and anytime a customer would call to say how nice the IT guy treated them I would always make a point to publicly praise them. After 3 months, all of my installations were done ahead of schedule and the customer was always happy. Thus, my paychecks made me VERY happy.

Geeks are people just like us. They know how to speak plain English, but if you piss them off they will be quick to drop some IT jargon on you and send you screaming.

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