I’ve given a lot of thought to this subject and I really think I can help. You see to many people IT guy is a mystery; a reclusive, surly shadow that descends upon you in your hour of need and disappears thereafter, from sight and consciousness, moving on to the next user in distress. Dealing with such a creature may seem complicated or daunting. Keeping that in mind I’ve come up with 10 guidelines for successfully navigating the pitfalls of dealing with your IT guy.
1. Thou Shalt Not Forget Thy Password
We understand that you have multiple passwords and most times they are different. Requiring you to change your password, for security reasons, to you seems unnecessary. We get that. Nonetheless you have to change your password and you know you have to change your password. Resistance is futile. When the time comes to change your password you must engage whatever cognitive function you can muster and retain the information you’ve chosen to use. That brings us to the next commandment:
2. Thou Shalt Not Excuse Thyself In Any Way
When you screw up, own it. The natural inclination is to say “It wasn’t me.” Well it was you. No one else uses your computer, just you. The argument is often proffered “I remember my password; the system is not letting me in.” Let me tell you something “the system” doesn’t care who you are, “the system” doesn’t have any prejudice or bias against you and “the system” isn’t trying to sabotage your day. “The system” just wants the correct password and when it receives that password (that you set by the way) “the system” will gladly let you in. You know how we know that? Because everyone who entered the correct password was promptly let in and did not have to call us.
Another thing, saying “I’m not a computer person” or “I’m computer illiterate” is a cop out. It’s 2021, most jobs require some sort of interaction with a computer. And guess what? Your job requires that you use a computer. Why is it that people wish to be viewed as competent in every other aspect of their job but are unwilling to put any time or effort into figuring out what every ten year old knows how to do? You don’t have to be a “computer person” to operate a computer and saying you are “computer illiterate” tells us you are either lazy or not bright, we’ll let you pick.
3. Thou Shalt Not Start Thy Query With “Quick Question.”
The implication here is that you’re so busy that you need a brief answer right away or that the question is insignificant and therefore not worth either of our time. Both of these are irksome. We fully recognize that this prefix to your question is rooted in your IT guy’s ‘don’t bother me’ persona and that it is intimidating to call him. You may think ‘I’m simply alerting him that I’ll only require a moment of his time’. You don’t know that and can’t control that; beginning your conversation with “Quick question” is a bad idea. Simply state your problem or question and allow your tech support to judge the value of the conundrum and determine the length or brevity of his response.
4. Thou Shalt Respect Thy IT Guy’s Time
We all know the Brothers Grimm tale of a shoemaker and his helper elves. Each night the good shoe cobbler laid out a piece of leather and went to sleep. At midnight the little elves would appear and make shoes while the cobbler slept. In the morning the elves would be gone and the cobbler would find a fine pair of shoes ready to be sold. Well you are not a cobbler and we are not elves. We work the same hours as you. In the evenings and on weekends we go home to our family. We too get to take lunch every day. Inviting us to work on your computer while you are at lunch, at 5 o’clock when you are done for the day, or on Saturday when you won’t be bothered doesn’t work for us.
5. Thou Shalt Not Stop Thy IT Guy In The Hall
If you see your IT guy in the hall there’s a good chance he’s going somewhere. He’s not just wandering aimlessly around the building waiting for someone to stop him with a question or a problem. Odds are someone has already called or emailed him with a question or problem and he’s on his way to respond to them. Your hallway question or problem is the equivalent of cutting in the lunch line. It’s not fair to the others involved. Oh and if he’s not on his way to help someone he’s on his way to the bathroom. He’s been holding it for some time because he was on the phone with someone claiming that they did not forget their password or that they are “computer illiterate”. So please give him a break. A smile or a polite head nod in the hall will usually be returned in kind.
6. Thou Shalt Have No Other IT Guys Before Him
Whether your boyfriend, brother or roommate is an IT guy, computer guru or tech geek is irrelevant. Your support comes from your IT staff. Going to someone else first only makes the problem worse when they can’t figure it out and you are forced to call your IT guy anyway. Saying that you tried to work it out through outside resources does not garner you any points, only chagrin.
7. Hast Thou Rebooted?
With the inevitable bumps in the road that come with regular computer use you’ll experience a glitch, a bug or a frozen application or system. Before frantically reaching for the phone and dialing your friendly neighborhood IT man, stop for a moment, take a breath and ask yourself “Have you rebooted?” You see this will save you from shamefully answering “No.” when your IT guy asks you that very question when you know good and well that would most likely have done the trick in the first place.
8. Thou Shalt Not Be Cute
Your IT guy visits many different people throughout the course of the day. He sits in offices and cubicles, on some chairs that are comfortable and others that aren’t. Working on computers requires that he sits at a desk that is not his own in a workspace where you are accustom to seeing others sit. When stumbling upon this out of the ordinary scene you may feel compelled to make comments such as these: “Why Barbara you’ve changed.” or “My Bob, you look different today.” or “Suzie, did you get a haircut?” These are not original and to your IT guy, who hears this six times a day, it is maddening. Resist the urge; fight it with every fiber of your soul. We beg you.
9. Thou Shalt Not Be Disingenuous
Starting your phone call with “Hey buddy” or “What’s up brother?” does not make us buddies or brothers. Asking “How’s your day going?” or “What’s new with you?” may seem polite but in the context of why you are calling is moot. We are not buddies as we never hear from you other than when something is wrong or you need something. This is not a social call; you are calling because you have a request for help or service. Pretending it is anything else is just a waste of our time and your energy. You give no thought about your IT guy unless you have a problem. We accept that, let’s move on.
10. Thou Shalt Express Thy GratitudeStolen from this guy.
IT guy is a thankless job. He is remembered only in your hour of greatest frustration and angst; to be immediately forgotten once the crisis has been addressed or the problem solved. If you really want to get along with your IT guy this commandment is above all others. Say thank you and mean it. You will endear yourself to him in a way that even he doesn’t understand.
With one bonus addition:
11. If you know someone who is an IT guy by profession, don’t call them only when you need help with your computer. Nothing drives us crazy more than when we only hear from “friends” or “family” when their computer is broken, or they need a new wireless network. Personally, if the only time I hear from you is when you have an IT problem, chances are I won’t help you and will instead ignore your calls. Here’s a thought for you all out there – show us some love outside of the IT realm. The fact of the matter is often times, we don’t know the answer to your problem either, we just know how to find the answer or have the experience to figure it out.