June 09, 2021

Techie and non-techie conversations. How to help people instead of frustrating them?

by Titas Lukošius

Customer Success Team Supervisor

Techie people often forget that strong technical knowledge is not enough – knowing how to communicate it right to others is essential. So how to explain technical information to a person with little to no training, limited exposure to technology, or altogether not interested in this field? While a techie may think that he is doing a great job, his audience can quickly become frustrated as the information may be too difficult to understand. It would lead them to feel uncomfortable, looked down at and wishing that they had never started this conversation in the first place.

If you ever face a similar situation, you would prefer to be thanked for the great help you provided rather than yelled at for making a person feel bad. So, if you ask yourself what to do to avoid these unpleasant situations, continue reading as these tips might save you from trouble.

Tip number one ☑️

Do not assume the knowledge level of the person you are talking with the second a conversation is started. Assuming that your audience knows as much as you may lead to frustration on both sides. For example, it is way easier to say “VPN” rather than “virtual private network,” but if the people do not know what those three letters stand for, they may feel confused and eventually tuned out.  To avoid this, you should pace yourself during the conversation and gather the necessary information about your audience’s knowledge level before providing them any complex information.

Tip number two ☑️

Try using visual guidance and simpler analogies. Having visual guidance and explaining things by rewording the technical phrases to simpler ones can genuinely help a person find what you are asking and figure out how to proceed further. For example, imagine a situation when a person asks you to explain what DNS addresses are. Now there are two ways to proceed – explain in great technical detail which a person might not understand or use some similar analogy, like this one: “The DNS is like a phonebook of the internet. It contains IP addresses and matches them to domain names”. Doesn’t that make it easier for a human to understand?

Tip number three ☑️

Last but not least – pure empathy. Mind your tone, stay calm and take your time to explain and gather feedback. If the person does not understand the information, try rephrasing yourself or just provide information in tiny bits, while highlighting your openness for any form of feedback. A positive attitude will go a long way in communication and relationships altogether and will definitely make the person feel good, which would lead to an appreciation for your expertise.

To sum up, never forget that even if you are the one leading the conversation, you have to do it carefully for it to be successful. Visual guidance, rephrasing and being understanding may lead you towards a well-deserved “Thank you!”.