Techsplaining – How to Avoid Being THAT Tech Person
Techsplaining – (verb) When an experienced technical consultant talks down to their end-users – typically based on their use of technology or level of technical ability. Like mansplaining, this phenomenon results from “overconfidence” and “cluelessness.”
First, there is a difference between Training and Techsplaining. When someone is going through training, they tend to learn. When someone is on the receiving end of a Techsplaining “rant,” they tend to (roll their eyes) and not learn.
But there is a balance. Introducing new software makes it easy to slip into a techsplaining mindset. So, be careful. Be very careful.
Here are some suggestions to avoid techsplaining:
Step 1: Know Your Audience
Ask your end-users these questions in the “Discovery” phase:
- Have you used similar software before?
- Have you implemented enterprise software before?
- How do you rate yourself on technology?
- What are you most afraid of with the introduction of this software?
The answers you get will tell you a lot about the Audience – their technical abilities, mindsets, and comfort with technology.
Step 2: Adjust your approach for the Audience
It’s simple to say but hard to do for many. You are likely implementing the software because you are an expert in the software you implement. That should be a given. But you don’t have to prove you are the expert to your end-users by belittling them – intentionally or not. If you need to be “the smartest person in the room,” you likely have the wrong job.
And that’s us, jobsplaining.
But once you know your end-users technical abilities and business savvy, adjust your approach. Talk to the level of your Audience.
Step 3: Listen to Learn
When approaching new users of the software, approach them to learn. Everyone has something to teach us, and implementing software is no different. We’ve found that approaching the end-users with the intent to learn from them makes the conversations more dynamic and evens the technical playing field.
References and Resources
Urban Dictionary – Techsplaining Definition
For more on Techsplaining – watch the IT Crowd.
Army of Me by Bjork (from Sucker Punch)
Note: It’s not lost on us that this post qualifies as Techsplaining, but no way to avoid that.