I’ve recently started some work for a new client, and had to spend some time on the phone to their outsourced IT helpdesk in order to get set up with remote access to files etc. It took about 30 excruciating minutes, in which time I distracted myself by trying to diagnose why it was quite so painful. I identified three reasons:
1. You can’t avoid them
Ordinarily when someone is providing a service – eg. you’ve got a plumber or electrician round – you’ll deliberately stay out of the way (other than when you bring them tea) to avoid having to make conversation. On the phone with IT support there’s nowhere to hide, which is terrible because:
2. It’s not a clear-cut social dynamic
Even though they’re providing a service, and have been called on to fix something for you while you sit pretty at your Macbook, you can’t consider an IT support person a tradesman. They’re sitting in an office too. You can’t fall back on your usual self-conscious accent-dropping chit chat, so what happens instead is:
3. You feel compelled to mutter along
When typing in codes and opening web pages etc, you’ll completely unnecessarily say each letter and number out loud as you type. It feels rude not to. And you’ll make “tum-te-tum” noises during the pauses, until the problem is fixed. Ordinarily this is the moment with a builder or whoever when you can hide behind chat about payment and parking permits etc., but no such luck here.
Don’t do as I did, which was pathetically witter on at my IT man about “what a star” he was and “just a little bit of code and I’m all set – it’s like magic!” Stay calm, just say thank you very much and put the phone down. If your IT guy is an MC – which is more than likely – he’ll be as relieved as you are.