Thursday, September 15, 2011

Being Uncivil

Note: This is a philosophical post rather than a technical post.

If you were to call me a year ago and ask for technical support on something I considered "simple" you would have had to endure my condescending 'tude. If you emailed me about something we did in class, I would have responded with a terse 'look it up!" type response. If you were unfortunate enough to work with me, you would receive lots of eye rolling or flat out refusal to do perfectly reasonable requests.

I can't say exactly why I was being such a bitch.  Perhaps it was grumpiness at the state of my 401k.  Perhaps I took to heart some (bad) advice I received from a teaching professional to, "treat them like scum so they will respect you." Perhaps my crush on Hugh Laurie subconsciously made me want to act like House. Perhaps I started to believe my own hype.

It wasn't working for me.

This past spring I realized that my sales people were approaching me the way you might approach a stray cat.  Was this the day I was going to bite their heard off, or was I going to play nice? I started to notice that even my  favorite customers seemed to be shying away from me. If I didn't get this crazy train on a different track, I'd alienate my allies, lose customers, or worse yet, end up working the stock room at the local Best Buy.

Starting a few months ago I started to make an effort to chill the F out.  Being an engineer fluent in AutoCAD and Civil 3D isn't going to win me any Nobel prizes. If I'm lucky, the best I can do is help someone design a better road or make their job easier. I'm certainly not going to accomplish that by being difficult.

This will be an ongoing journey for me. There will always be emails that I forget to respond to, or cranky customers out for a fight. I've never been a great people-person, but I can at least try not to be blatantly anti-social.

PS: I still fully intend to remain as crass as ever - just nicer.
PPS: I still don't like it when people call my direct line for tech support.  A person has to have boundaries.