August 27, 2021

Breaking the ‘Tech Support’ Mold

The Disconnect Between Technical Minds and Non-Technical Minds – And how to solve it.

Sebastian Voth Digital Media Specialist and Live Event Specialist Based out of Niagara Ontario Canada

I want to start off this article by explaining the bigger disconnect. The constant battle between a technical mind and a non-technical mind. When I say ‘technical and non-technical mind’ I’m referring to people connected to technology or working with technology. This is not to say a non-technical mind is not as intelligent. Many non-technical minds are brilliant and do amazing work. But for this article I am talking about the disconnect between the two.

You’ve experienced it maybe with your grandparents, explaining how to send an e-mail, or explaining what buttons not to hit on the TV remote or why you have 5 different remotes. Ask yourself this, “Are you the type of person to get frustrated with them? Do you exclaim, “You don’t understand this!?! It’s so easy.”

Working in Technology (for me) has become all about explaining how something works in a way that every-mind can understand and being open to questions and having solutions for people who know what they want, but don’t know how to achieve it. There is a small group of us that sit in a dark basement, looking at code and never speaking directly to a ‘non-technical mind.’

The Problem: Warning - Honesty beyond this point.

So, what is the root of the problem? What is the issue that nobody wants to talk about? What is causing this disconnect?

Arrogant Technical Minds, and stubborn Non-Technical Minds.

It is a perfect storm for people to become angry, toss blame and poorly communicate. You may have been on the other side of it. A person standing in a room and speaking loudly and confidently about their technical knowledge. Going on and bragging about the different solutions they know about, and “showing off” knowledge in a way that makes you feel unintelligent.

These people often could solve an issue with technology you are having, but I always ask the question: Would you want them to?

My answer every single time is no. I then hear: “But Sebastian, they are brilliant technical minds? Just ignore the arrogant tone of voice.”

Why enable that way of thinking? Why support them? Where could I find someone with a technical mind that treats everyone with respect and doesn’t shove knowledge down our throats?

I can look past, and have, worked with a ton of different personalities. Not everyone can do that. Not everyone chooses to do that. That’s where we have the clash of non-technical and technical minds. The non-technical person is looking for help and is looking for an answer and a solution to a problem, not a lesson on why it happened or why the user made a mistake. This is where people can become heated and upset.

Don't get my wrong, I am sure that I have been on both sides of this issue, there is no one personality type, and no perfect person. But it's the ones the decide to work on these challenges that thrive.

The Problem - Part 2:

This gets into the stubborn non-technical mind. Being stubborn about technology is a frustrating trait to deal with. Not wanting to learn a new software or login process can be debilitating to someone’s workflow, cyber security, and overall job. “Just fix it!” is a common outburst. Nobody wants to learn what went into causing the problem, maybe it could have been prevented? But being spoken down to, doesn’t help in these situations.

The Solution:

If you read any of these descriptions and maybe felt a tinge of guilt. Because maybe you yelled over the phone to an IT person trying to solve your problem, or maybe you over-explained to a client the technology problem they were having…

Its all good. It happens, we get frustrated on both sides. The start of the solution, its to recognize the other side and how they feel about the technology, and say it out-loud

As technicians we must look at every situation, service ticket, phone call and situation with a different critical eye. Looking for what the non-technical mind really wants or working with the technical mind to guide them to the best solution to solve the problem.

The key to this, is to NOT sound like a know-it-all. The goal should be to come across as humble, knowledgeable, but not forcing anything on anyone, and not saying it’s the ONLY solution for this problem. In my experience in the field of Technology, I worked mainly in digital media and events, camera Technology, livestreaming, video editing software, and minor computer repair. I am a certainly not an expert of all thing’s technology, but I do have a lot of knowledge and want to learn more every day.

I have made mistakes, overexplained something, used technology jargon that made someone else in the room feel small. But that’s what this article is about, to start the conversation about a resolution to this problem.

Again, saying this out loud and writing about it may make it sound easy to just flip behaviours. This is not an easy task, and again, nobody is perfect.

But a problem is solved from both people, working together for a common goal. What is our common goal between technical minds and non-technical minds? Simple.

  • Technology to work smoothly.
  • Business to be successful.

This is a common goal between both types of minds. Technicians want whatever technology it is to work smoothly, to make our jobs easier. And business owners, or project managers don’t want to be slowed by a technology error. This saves them money and meets deadlines.

So lets all work together to meet this common goal. 

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