If you are going to be working with something, learn a little bit about it.

You mean like, oh I don't know, say, um, people?

After all, it's your job to deal with how they deal with computers. Too many tech support guys out there think that their job is technical, that they are working "with" computers. Sorry, wrong answer! You are working with people working with computers. Learn to deal and stop feeding your own egos off your users' insecurities and ignorance. You're being paid to be knowledgeable about software and hardware - you can hardly claim to be superior just because you know your own job.

Reality check, all you frustrated tech support bods out there. People are more complicated than computers. If you can't come to grips with the fact that they occasionally react in unpredictable and criptic ways and are unable to process and retain certain kinds of information (different kinds for each person, just to make it more interesting), then how can you be surprised they in turn can't grasp the same peculiarities when it comes to PCs?

As for the specific case mentioned above, I've found that screen capture images showing the exact stages through which the users should be going usually do the trick for those who are unsure or unfamiliar with certain procedures. That way there can be no discrepancy between the way you perceived it and wrote it down and the way they themselves perceive it, and fewer mistakes ensue.

The thing is, if as a tech support person you can get past the ingrained need to refer to the parts of the computer, and the associated operating system term, by their correct names, you can make life so much easier. (Orpheum )

If only!

Unfotunately, there is no definitive lexicon of computer terms. Terminology differs from country to country and even from company to company. Is the thing I am writing this on a computer, a PC, a box or a system? I've heard them referred to as all of the above. Am I plugged into a docking station or a port replicator? And am I looking at the monitor or the screen? These multiplications of words only scratch the surface - it gets much more complicated when you get into the bowels of the computer, because end users are hardly ever told the proper names for things like the registry, the command prompt etc.

Two more things that greatly contribute to the communication problems between support staff and their users are the fact that interaction is always over the phone (you can't just point at something, you need to explain in words to a person what and were it is - plus you have no idea if they're doing it right) and, and this is important, the fact that people who ring up tech support are more often than not stressed and worried. They don't know whether the morning's work is going to be salvaged, whether the problem will be fixed in time for them to complete the urgent report that has to be on their manager's desk by this afternoon, or wether they might as well just go home now - or resign.

It is the height of arrogance nd insensitivity to turn around and accuse these people of being stupid, lusers, no hopers or whatever. They are coming to you for help - for support, as the term tech support implies. I just don't get how techies can be so cruel to them and about them. And I have worked Helldesk, so it's not like I'm just preaching from the outside.