I have decided to ‘come out’, I am a Geek who has been in hiding, and today I have been forced to face it. I have had to recognize this due to my inability to communicate with the general populace has been proven to me today.
So I write this blog to assist people on how to deal with Geeks – Both from the client and the Geeks perspective.
For the Client
IT Geeks need to know specifics up front to be of assistance to you. So be clear and express this. Here are some examples:
You don’t know exactly what you want: “I need to brain storm with you so that I can finalise my needs”
I know what I want, but can’t express it: Give a physical example, e.g. a picture or spreadsheet or word doc and write as much as you can. Let the Geek read it, as reading this uses a different area in the brain when reading. “Please read this and then confirm what you understand”
I am not happy with something but I want to give you a chance to solve this: X is not acceptable to me. I need Y achieved to be acceptable. Can you achieve this?
I am not happy with something, I don’t want to give you a chance, but I feel I ought to express it: Out of courtesy for our past relationship I am stating that I am not accepting X. Due to this, I will no longer be pursuing this.
So in short. Geeks can’t take long verbal communication – they lose track and stop focusing. So if you wish to get a point across or a solution, you need to be very clear, precise and fast in delivery.
For the Geek
You talk in Short hand. You don’t like knowing all the background, just the facts. However you are part of the 5% of the population that behaves like this. You need to be aware that 95% of people need to have the background data to understand or do anything.
You need to practice communicating. Start small and simple and grow as your skills grow.
There are three areas to grow in. Listening, Speaking and Body Language.
For a Geek, listening is easier. But keeping track in long winded communication is hard. So, ask yourself, “Is this a brain storming session?” If it is, you will find you will be able to listen and think about the communication.
If however it is not and it is just general basic day to day chat. Lets be honest. If you are not interested, you won’t listen. So just accept that and move on.
Fact 1. No use talking, unless people can hear and understand you. So if you are talking, be loud enough to be heard.
Fact 2. Look at a person as this increases their likelihood of taking in what you are saying.
Fact 3. Don’t use Jargon. Most people have to translate the jargon to English. E.g., IT Geeks says “Yes, this has an API” IT Geek could have said “Yes, this has an Active Program Interface” or “Yes, this has an option to Interface via an API”.
Fact 4. Don’t Overload them. Realise you need to communicate a clear message. Don’t go down into the depths of how you worked it out, or why. That is not important to the person receiving the answer. They just want the answer they asked as clearly and quickly as possible. E.g. “Can this be done?” Geek could say “Well if you did X and then Y or it may be if we did Z” or Communicating Geek could say “95% Yes” or “I believe so, but I would need to confirm this with tests”
In my opinion Allan Pease is the Guru of teaching about Body Language. You can review books, YouTube and all sorts of methods to learn from this master. However, Body Language matters. Why? Because more words are said by action than by the mouth. Learning about Body Language, has allowed me to operate and create a successful business.
Invest some time to learn about Body Language, it will save you a load of pain.
Need a Magic Fairy?
In this current world which has so much invested and controlled by IT, Geeks are needed. This is just a fact. However we all need to get along and know our value. There are people both Geek and Non Geek who have invested time and energy in bridging this gap. These people are like Diamonds, very rare and really useful. The best way to find these people is by word of mouth. For IT Geeks on your own, you need to mentor and group together – ask. For business people, chat and find one. Places like Linked in are really good for this, so are reading things like this Blog. I am not sure that I would every call myself a Magic Fairy, but I have proven my ability in taking business needs and producing in a timely and cost effective manner, IT solutions. I am excel in this area. There are others. You need to find the right one to match you and your business needs.