After working in training for nearly eight years – I tend to hear a lot of “you are so patient” or “how are you so patient?” A bit strange to me, because patience with technology feels natural to me at this point, but I understand that it isn’t the same for everyone.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately (as I often do) about why dealing with technology seems easier for some and not for others. And I am starting to think that working with technology helps, even if it hurts a bit at first. I think the below points are key concepts in building the mental models of adaptability and patience around technology.
It is okay to fail.
There is nothing quite like completing what you think are all of the steps correctly, and having the software or hardware not work. Luckily (most of the time) you haven’t broken anything, and can easily try again.
There is a lot of iteration in working with technology. Try once, adjust, try again. This is like the scientific method you learned in school, control (as many as possible) variables, change one, experiment, re-test.
You fail a lot when working with new tech, and sometimes even with something you are familiar with. Troubleshooting, and improving, is what you spend most of your time doing.
The reward for trying again is perhaps success. There is no reward for stopping at failure.
You don’t always have control over change.
Anyone who has worked with community members accessing their webmail after Yahoo! or Hotmail has made a style change, people feel lost and confused when change to the familiar occurs. And, with many technology changes, we, the users, don’t get to control when or how a change occurs.
If you know that change will happen, you can let yourself learn more naturally – watch trends – “what do website menus usually look like?” “what are common compose menus?” “how might that machine tell me that it is broken?”
Also – change is unavoidable, so rolling with it is less stressful than the alternative.
Coping with frustration quickly helps with productivity.
Whether it is taking a few deep breaths before dealing with a broken widget, or stepping away from a software snafu for a time, you need to take breaks from frustrations. Not indefinitely, abandoning the project, but for a set period of time.
The more frustrated, or angry you are, the less likely you will be able to spot the error that has occurred, and the less likely you are able to be think the problem through.
Learn what ways best work for you when you are frustrated, will help you move forward with technology tasks.
Practice helps beyond the initial task.
The more familiar and practised you get with dealing with webmail – that can also help with desktop mail clients. And the more you troubleshoot excel, the more you will feel comfortable troubleshooting Word problems – as you start to identify what sources are most effective. And the same patience you use when learning your phone / computer is the same that you can apply when approaching a different machine.
These tips might also help with issues outside of the technology realm. What works for you?
- Crucial Conversations – great tips on listening to people (also helpful for listening to technology)
- 10 Tips for Dealing with Change Positively in Your Workplace – more general, but some good tips on manage your reaction to change.
- Dealing with stress – a previous post of mine