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How IT Professionals Have Alienated “Regular” Users

I was chatting with a gentleman last week about the computer systems in his office. Our conversation turned to how difficult he finds trying to deal with the “computer stuff”. He said he is “scared of his computer”. I have heard this statement and similar statements “I do not understand it” and “why is it so hard”. Once again I started defending my industry. We IT pros have made users scared, intimated and frustrated with technology. I think most of us do not intend to do this but because of the nature of our industry, it happens naturally. The following reasons seem to come up over and over again in conversations with everyday users.


  • Acronyms

    Wi-Fi, SATA, USB, WEP, WPA and the list goes on and on. IT pros have a tough time remembering what each acronym stands for; imagine how hard it is for a non-tech person. IT Pros use the acronyms without any consideration of how difficult it is for others to follow the conversation. Unfortunately, I have seen too many IT Pros use the acronyms to intimidate or scare users, whether this is intentional or not.

  • Personality

    Let’s face it, most IT pros are not the most outgoing group of people you will meet. Many non tech users find us unapproachable; think of Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. Most of us, have been doing IT for years, and forget that others do not know everything we do.

  • Fast pace of Technology

    We spend our days keeping up with the fast pace of changing technology. Non-techies do not do this at all. The average user does not know about IPv6, they just want their systems to work. We need to keep our users up to date, but only if it is relevant to their productivity.

  • Scope of IT

    IT is enormous!!! There are so many different aspects of IT, and this can be overwhelming for users. Users do not understand why one IT pro will deal with the networking, while another deals with websites.

As IT Pros, we need to make our users comfortable with their computers. We need to remember what it was like when we were learning. We cannot expect users to know about the newest Intel chipset, shortcut keys, or even the “right click”. Users, for the most part, do not care about the newest advances in tech; they just want to know how to use their systems to get their job done. We need to support our users and more importantly make them feel more confident about using their systems. Too many people do not ask for IT help because, some IT pro made them feel foolish when they asked for help in the past. Not only does this make our entire profession look like arrogant snobs, but worse users will be not ask for help in the future. I have encountered users who have been dealing with a computer issue for months but did not ask for help because they did not want to be intimidated by IT again.

As IT Pros, let’s work together to make a great reputation for our industry.

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