5 dumb things tech people say

So I’ve been on enough conference calls, customer support calls and cold calls to hear an unhealthy barrage of stupid tech jargon.

I find that there is never a paucity of people who want other people to think their smart.  Honestly, I’m tired of the bullshit.

I wish more people would stop trying to act smart and just get things done.  Don’t contrive intelligence, just care more.

Don’t speak with a nerdy grandiloquence as if you’re trying to impress Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin or Jack Dorsey.  Those guys don’t care that you graduated from an ivy league school at the top of your class or that you received international accolades for fixing a Blue Screen of Death.

The world doesn’t care about how you sound, the world just cares about what you can do.

Ask yourself this question: What can I do for the world?  What does the world need?

Find the need and then meet it, heck, exceed it better than anyone else..

Acting Smart

Don’t act smart, don’t waste your energy or the world’s attention with chicanery.  Instead of feigning smarts, fighting for the right words or spending an inordinate amount of time looking good, just focus on the problem and do it better than your peers.

I guarantee you that people will respect someone who can’t speak geekanese but who knows more about an Apple computer than an Apple Genius than someone who has the vernacular but needs to Google everything and can’t think for himself.

Instead of talking about fixing stuff, fix stuff.

Be the first person in the office to fix that problem that everyone complains about.

Be that guy in the classroom who asks the tough questions.

Be that lady in the meeting who stands up what she believes in and makes a cogent case for her opinion.

Stupid stuff surrounds us

The older I get the more stupid things I hear purportedly “smart” people saying.  And this is the thing: I get it, people are insecure, heck I’m insecure, so we have a propensity to speak in a way to ingratiate ourselves with the public.  But I’m convinced that the best way to be liked is to help people with their issues in a way that puts your interests subordinate to theirs.

That being said, I had to get that off my chest, I want to share some of the dumbest things I’ve heard allegedly smart tech people say.

Read and laugh, oh and Happy pre-thanksgiving!

5. “That’s weird”

Okay let me translate: if you ever hear a tech person utter this phrase it’s exactly tantamount to saying:

“I have no idea what the problem is but I don’t want to showcase my ignorance so I’ll say that’s weird with a quizzical look on my face to look smart”.

Often the tech will frown, furrow his brow or gaze thoughtfully into the distance as he tries to ascertain the problem.  Veterans of the “that’s weird” phrase will even pick up their smartphones to pretend as if a fortuitous call just extricated them from the uncomfortable moment.

But hey, the next time that happens, ask the “geek” who he’s talking with…

4. “Yeah, you’ve probably got a virus”

Imagine if every time you went to the doctor for a checkup he said, “Yeah, you’ve probably got a virus”.  Would you start to get dubious?  No one is so credulous to believe that every physical ailment is the dirty work of a virus so why would we believe the same thing when it comes to computers?

I mean, really, is a virus the impetus behind every computer problem?

Computer won’t boot?  Probably got a virus.  Has the geek considered that the battery may be dead, not drained but dead? Or perhaps the RAM module isn’t seated securely because the poor laptop was freggin’ dropped from the balcony?

The next time someone throws this one-liner at you, quickly retort as follows:

Why do you think that?

You’ll either get (a) hesitation because he was surprised you challenged his sagacious mind or (b) bull-shit because his obtuse brain is trying to concoct a reasonable answer off-the-cuff.

Try the benign “why” question; it makes for some serious fun.

3. “My friend is the CTO of Widgets USA and…”

Can someone say non-sequitur?

Some people erroneously believe that being in the presence of smart people, or even just knowing smart people, is adequate to boost your brain power.  When these geeks encounter a question they can’t assimilate, they usually appeal to their dad’s relationship with some big shot investor or having the CTO of some Fortune 500 company follow him on Twitter.

These are probably the same dolts who sleep on books to gain knowledge.  Yes, on the one hand you can learn new things from smart people but never replace being in the proximity of a smarty pants with being the smarty pants herself.

When someone tries to derail the conversation by referring to some allegedly omniscient computer geek who’s replete with facts, adroitly reel the conversation back in and ask:

Yes, and what do you know about this?

Be kind. Be courteous but don’t let some silly sales guy or craven co-worker flip the deck on you by changing the topic.

2. “Can I place you hold?”

Alright, this should probably be number one.

Let me properly construe the message:

“Oh crap, I didn’t get trained on that, it exceeds the scope of the manual my manager gave me, what should I do? Oh I remember, place it hold and then Google the hell out of the customer’s question”

Yep, this question oozes with dumb like… like… um like a man trying to kiss a sea urchin.

Why can’t you just tell me why you’re placing me on hold?  My time is valuable and I’m at least owed a superficial reason.  Heck, if you don’t know the answer and feel abashed then you don’t have to admit it but least tell me what you’re doing.  I’ll actually respect you more NOT less if you say, “That’s a good question sir, I don’t know the answer but I will get it for you.  Can I put you on hold for 2 minutes?”

But a barren “Can I place you hold” won’t suffice.  It’s terse, almost laconic and vexes me because it hides information.  Tell me why you want to put me on hold and then I’ll happily hold.

1. “No, that’s not possible”

So here’s the situation.  The trackpad on your Macbook Pro dies, it’s having a bad day and just gives up on life. You Google around, ask a few friends and then finally avow to make an appointment with an Apple Genius.

You get there and explain the situation:

“Hi, nice Apple Genius lady, my trackpad just randomly stopped working today. I Googled online, asked a few friends and cleaned the trackpad but I just doesn’t do anything.”

You hand her the Macbook Pro, she flips open the lid…

She powers on the device…

and… guess what: IT WORKS FOR HER.

So now you’re chagrined, no – you’re aghast! And you don’t know what to say because you’re both relieved and embarrassed simultaneously.

As you smile sheepishly and turn to exit you say:

“Thanks, but it wasn’t working for me just before I came.  Like literally, just 10 minutes ago it wasn’t working.  I’m not kidding”

Then the super Genuis gives you an incredulous look and boldly asserts:

“No, that’s not possible”

So wait, let me get this straight: are you calling me a liar? Are you saying that I have an irrational penchant for fabricating tech problems so I can waits hours on interminable lines for a Genius?  So I can have the sordid satisfaction of hearing them say:

“No, that’s not possible”?

Why don’t you just admit that you’re just as benighted as I am about this and you simply don’t know the answer. Why lie to me, and yourself, by dogmatically alleging that such a thing isn’t possible?  Of cource it’s possible because it just freggin’ happened 10 minutes ago!

In context, this to me, is the dumbest thing a tech person can say.  Mainly because you’re trying to make the customer feel crazy and save face at the same time.

I hate this the most.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve heard even stupider comments from tech people.  Share the jollity in the comments below!

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  • IT Renovation

    Thanks for a very entertaining post! I am definitely guilty of one or two of these. My favorite is when a tech is working with a user and says something like “Oh, crap!” because they just screwed something up and then tries to explain away their gut reaction. 🙂

  • Bruce Jones

    During “Old School”, when we make this country #1 in the world, we taught nerds the gift of fear. We didn’t “celebrate” them. They were productive and quiet. Remember . . . #1 !