North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Interpersonal skills needed for Network Engineers

  • From: Jerry Pasker
  • Date: Mon Feb 18 14:29:27 2008

R. Irving wrote:

Looking for tech's that are "person" people defies the root demographic profile. Person people
are extroverts, good technicians more often than not, are introverts. Seeking the
Courtesan with the genuine heart of gold, as it were, is not only one of the oldest failings,
but probably ranks among the most common... (At least in HR departments :-P ) .

I throw this out there to the rest of the techs on this list:

The problem there is that someone that is a good really tech and even a really good people person eventually learns to hate people, or they end up going insane. Probably both. This is because they perceive the people they deal with all day long are idiots that don't actually want to be helped. Or more often than not, don't want to hear what the real problem is, nor do they want to take the effort to help themselves.

Being a tech that also has decent people skills, I have this "going insane" problem myself. When someone asks me to help them solve a problem, and asks "what's wrong" and I answer with "It could be about 1000 different things. It's impossible to tell until we narrow it down. So let's get started so we can figure it out," a significant percentage of people (certain personality types) hear "I don't know how to fix the problem. [ I'm an idiot]." They become hard to deal with because they don't want to listen to what their perceived idiot of a tech has to tell them. Why would they want to go through troubleshooting techniques that some idiot is telling them to do when that idiot just said that they don't know how to fix it?

Some of those types of people actually want to be lied to. "Oh, I know how to fix that... do this... oh, didn't work? Ok, do that instead.... ok, I know how to fix this... try this now...." Some people like this.

Some people hate being lied to. They'd rather hear the first approach.

It entirely comes down to the interpersonal communication version of impedance mismatch. As long as the tech and the customer have a similar impedance, all is well. But when they're not matched up right, the transmitter (the tech) transmits harder, and more signal bounces back from the transmission line (the person on the other end). Eventually, it burns out the transmitter. Impedance mismatch.

Figuring out what kind of person you're dealing with before fixing the problem is the issue. And it's hard to do. Matching up the right "problem haver" with the right "problem fixer" is the crux of the issue. That's why having a front line of "people person" types to sort out the chafe solve the easy problems, and adapt their impedance to match the customer, and be smart enough to forward the hard ones on to better techs works so well.

It applies to all techs. Computer, car mechanics, doctors, etc. Imagine a doctor that is so tired of dealing with patents that don't want to take the effort to help narrow down a problem, that they just prescribe 6 different pills in a shotgun affect to make that person go away and quit bothering them. :-)