Professional Courtesy Online

For some reason some people think they can just be as rude as they want to be online. It’s as if they believe they are dealing with machines and don’t feel that they need to be courteous in any way. People run the machines, and they do have feelings. Because they are working in ‘service’ does not mean they are sub-human.

be nice

There are several forms of abuse such as those that will just come in and tell you how to do your job or that you haven’t done something they expected, even though they don’t have a clue what is going on yet. They come in with a ready-made agenda and will send you a rudely long, tedious list to explain every single detail they could think of, and assuming you will do everything that they have determined will be necessary. This is usually before they even give the training or documentation so much as a peak to see what is necessary and/or what has already been done for them. If you have to say ‘it’s not my job’ in any shape, way or form, you can expect lots of attitude from there on out.

It would be a nice touch to have enough humility to pose the problem by asking a question rather than making an accusation. For example, ‘is there something I don’t understand?’ or ‘can you please explain why I can’t find such-and-such?’ So much kinder – whereas an accusation basically proclaims ‘you are not doing your job’ and/or ‘you have not met your obligation or promise’. How insulting when you know you have.

Then there are those that refuse to follow instructions. No matter how much time you spend trying to explain something logically so that they will know how to do it, they will not follow. At best, they will give it their own spin or interpretation as to what you must mean to say, and will do just sort of what you said. The problem is many things will not work except one way so they are going around in circles and you are forced to go around with them and wasting your time.

For one thing computers are just machines – they do not understand ambiguity – they understand off and on, yes or no, zero and one. They don’t get it with ‘sort of’ or ‘something like’. Just the same as why passwords have to be exactly what they are (for security) and web addresses need to be the exact correct spelling and syntax in order to function properly. Don’t start screaming that your website is down for the past week, when the problem is only that you can’t spell your own domain name which is running just fine.

Terminology is not inter-changeable so when a technical support or a customer service agent tells you to phrase something a certain way, when referring you to another site for assistance, don’t change the words around at all, especially if you are not sure what you are talking about; the person you are speaking to will not understand what you are trying to say and can only guess. Then they will either give you the wrong information as a result or tell you they can’t help you.

It is not fair that now you will have to take up more of someone’s time to explain again what should have been done or said the first time. Time is a finite resource for everyone – support is there to help you and they wouldn’t do that kind of work if they didn’t like it. But you need to realize they are human and have just so many hours in their day. Oddly enough you may not be the only person who requires assistance so please try to cooperate as much as possible.

Howard Whittington

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