Geek Etiquette: Tech Help

Most geeks have been there. Whether it’s a late-night call from a friend or a quick request while visiting relatives, we’ve had to provide technical assistance. Hey, a lot of us have even needed help ourselves! I’m great at solving problems in CSS to get a site working correctly, but can’t explain why an app on my phone or iPad will just freak out or stop on me. If I look at many electronics wrong, they’ll just shut off. So what do you do when you need technical help? Read this quick guide and feel free to casually post it on your social profiles. Next time your friends/family ask you for help, you just may be more willing to help them.

1. Troubleshoot

Before you ask for help, try a couple simple things.

  • Turn it off, and then on again. I’m pretty sure IT people are required to ask ¬†you if your device is turned on when they begin. More often than you’d think, this may solve your problem. Make sure cords are plugged in, the item is charged, and the item has been properly restarted.
  • Google it. Someone else may have had this problem before, and either the official site for the product or a consumer forum may already have the solution layed out. Try a couple different phrases while searching before calling your friends for back-up.
  • Wait. When frustrated with technology, we can get flustered and not be able to see or think clearly. Take a step back and do something else for 10-15 minutes, and then come back to the problem.

Can’t find an easy solution or don’t have time to wait? Time to bring in the big guns.

2. Ask Nicely

Your friend/family member will be doing you a favor, so please be courteous and respectful of their time. Try not to wake them up or ask them when they’re too busy to help. If the problem can wait a couple days, ask them when a convenient time for them would be.

3. Help Them Help You

In order to assist, your friend/family member will need to know what happened. Try to state calmly what happened and what you saw. If there are any error codes or weird screens, take a picture or screen cap for them. Be nearby while they’re providing help and you may even learn what to do in case it happens again!

4. Pay Them Back

IT and technical roles often make a lot of money, and I’m guessing your friend/family member is assuming they’re helping you for free. Giving them money may look a bit tacky, so find another way to thank them for their time. Bake them their favorite cookies, buy dinner or a movie ticket next time you’re all out, or offer a service in exchange. Maybe you can help them sew their cosplay outfit, edit their novel, or teach them how to sing. Or heck, maybe you’re a Mac and they’re a PC and you can just trade tech services back and forth.

Overall, remain calm and grateful when asking for assistance with technical issues, and be ready to help when they need something in exchange!

Are you the go-to tech person among your friends/family? What additional tips would you suggest?

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