Put on Your Technology Hat

“Technology people tend to have what I call ‘Smart-Kid Syndrome'”

Do you understand your IT (information technology) team? As the Chief Technology Officer for my company I can tell when I have my technology hat on because the non-tech people can’t understand what I’m talking about (and usually don’t want to). Fortunately I learned how to put on and take off my technology hat in order to work with both business and technology teams, to bridge the communication gap, so to speak. You can too if you understand just a few things about the typical technology persona.

Technology people tend to have what I call “Smart-Kid Syndrome”. This is a condition whereby the person is naturally really smart (at least in their area of expertise, if not overall) and they tend to make you feel stupid when they communicate. They speak fast, use terms you don’t understand and get easily frustrated if you don’t get what they’re talking about right away. Its not that they intentionally want to show off and make you feel stupid (though some do), its that being successful in technology requires both detailed and high-level thinking – a skill that IT people tend to have in spades.

To improve communications with your resident techies I suggest you try to move conversations in one of two directions, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Either keep the conversation at a high level so the IT person must speak to you in terms of benefits (not features) and concepts. Or, ask the technology person to explain the details of the technology as though they are an expert tour guide speaking to novices. By asking them to be the expert (which they usually are) you are giving them permission to be smarter than you and at the same time you’re asking them to not get frustrated when you ask questions.

Ultimately your IT team can be your best friend, helping you be more productive with your tech tools. So I also recommend that you make friends with your resident guru and not just regard them as lifeguards. By including IT in other aspects of your world and business your natural rapport will make communicating even easier.