Be Nice

Years ago when I was just out of the Marine Corps and found myself as the only IT guy in an environment filled with various levels of technologically challenged mortgage brokers, realtors, title agents, and other office workers.  In that environment, I was the sharpest guy around, I was so in-tuned with the current happenings in tech I could make things happen before the actual request came in, and I was over-confident. I was great at my job, I was keeping projects on budget, coming up with innovative solutions to the task being thrown at me, and I was damn proud of the work I was producing. How could anyone fault me for keeping this house of cards standing all by my self?

It was after a particularly trying time with one of the remote office managers that my boss told me that I was providing bad customer service. I was baffled. How could this be? I was keeping all the applications running smoothly, all the offices connected, and the online marketing flowing smoothly, yet I was providing bad customer service? It came down to a simple concept: all users are customers of the IT Department. If they connect to our network, they are an IT customer, if they use our email, they are an IT customer. If they can’t connect to corporate network, they are IT customer.

To drive home the point, I was reminded that these folks were generating actual revenue for the business, yet I was causing them unnecessary grief.  What happens when they leave and take their clients with them?  Who will I argue with then?  Who will generate revenue to pay my salary?

Young Jason understood these concepts, but his bull-headedness wanted the boss to know, ‘They were wrong.’ Regardless if they were wrong, the way I was dealing with their wrongness was even more wrong, I was unnecessarily turning mole hills into mountains.. They had taken the time to call me with an issue, expecting a swift resolution to their issue.  They did not seek me out specifically to argue.about some minute detail that ultimately didn’t matter. They certainly didn’t decide their day was going so well that they needed to call me to get their blood pressure up.  That ridiculous, I was the problem.  They didn’t care HOW I fixed their problem, or what the root cause was, they simply wanted to be able to do their own job.

Over the years I have been getting better, which is all that can be asked of any of us.  While I can’t say I’ve been all rainbows and unicorns all the time, I have found the need for external censure or restraint has become more infrequent and to a lesser degree.  I’m not advocating for rolling over and letting the business users walk over you, rather we must simply listen to and understand their problem and execute a solution to get them back doing what they need to be doing.

I often find myself having to conjure up this conversation from my earlier days and remind myself to simply take a deep breath and solve the problem at hand. I think this quote from the classic Patrick Swayze movie Roadhouse really sums it all up.

 Be nice. I want you to remember that it’s a job. It’s nothing personal.