True confession: My greatest IT challenge is not keeping up with technology! It’s not budgeting the next upgrade! It is keeping my tone as warm and human as possible. And I think I may have a lot of company….
IT is Cool!
In fact, cold might be more accurate! I often want to respond quickly to requests— get in and get out— and often to the detriment of the quality of the relationships I have with those around me. Now, this is a ‘faith’ statement, because I really don’t see it!
Recently my church small group discussed the question, “Why is it sometimes hard to show love to those around us?” Honestly, I couldn’t think of anyone who I don’t show love to! Really! So I asked my wife, suggesting that I couldn’t think of anyone because it’s a blind spot. She laughed and was shocked at my conundrum! Thankfully, she was able to help me by listing some quick and easy examples of those I don’t show love to.
Why It’s Such a Challenge
So I guess it’s because this really is a blind spot to me! But I think many of us in IT may have the same blind spot— yours is probably just not as big a blind spot as mine.
I learned recently that I’m an introvert; I had no idea! I thought I was an extrovert! But my daughter was able to help me see the flaw in my thinking, and she was correct! And IT people tend to be introverts.
As an IT person, my tendency is to give someone the help they need as quickly and as efficiently as possible. I had always thought the reason was that I was trying to be efficient with their time; but now know that it’s because I’m trying to be efficient with my time.
In her Huffington Post article, Alena Hall lists ten ways introverts interact differently with the world. Here’s a quick summary:
- They withdraw in crowds.
- Small talk stresses them out, while deeper conversations keep them alive.
- They succeed on stage— just not in the chit-chat afterwards.
- They get distracted easily, but rarely feel bored.
- They are naturally drawn to more creative, detail-oriented and solitary careers.
- When surrounded by people, they locate themselves close to an exit.
- They think before they speak.
- They don’t take on the mood of their environment like extroverts do.
- They physically can’t stand talking on the phone.
- They literally shut down when it’s time to be alone.
Okay, I own nine of those!
Why It Matters
Zig Ziglar once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In John 13:34-35 Jesus told us, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)
Putting those two together, we as IT people who tend to be introverts need to reach beyond our comfort zone and demonstrate how much we love and care. Resolving someone’s tech support issue is important, but it’s the way we say things and the warmth of our voice that lets them know we love them.
I obviously need to work on this more. But here are a few things I try to do to warm things up:
- Make the call. Email is helpful and efficient, but people need to hear my voice. So I try to call folks to help them or to follow up with them, even though it is less efficient.
- Slow down. People know I’m busy, and can probably tell I’m out of my comfort zone when talking through an issue. I try to slow the conversation down by asking them questions about details surrounding their issue and about how they’re doing while working with them (So, what’s the weather like there?).
- Be available. When we’re done, I always try to remember to ask if there’s anything else I can help them with while we’re connected. Most of the time there isn’t, but sometimes there is and I’ll either take care of it or put a process in motion to get them the help they need.
Well, I hope it was okay to be so vulnerable. Maybe you can identify with some of my struggle, and maybe this article will help you love better too. Keeping it personal is part of how we love one another.
Nick Nicholaou is president of MBS, an IT consulting firm specializing in church and ministry computer networks, VoIP, and private cloud hosted services. You can reach Nick at [email protected], and may want to check out his firm’s website (www.mbsinc.com) and his blog at http://ministry-it.blogspot.com.