Should You Learn to Speak Tech?

July 29, 2016 The TNS Group

Let me start out by saying I’ve never been one for languages.  I took 4 years of Spanish in middle school and 4 years of French in high school and my ability to speak both languages ends at being able to ask where the bathroom is.  Over three years ago, coming from a completely different industry, I started my new job at TNS and thought it would be a breeze…up until I started having to attend company technology meetings and taking notes.  I felt like I was back in my Spanish or French class not having a clue what was being said and really wondering if what they were saying was English or not. I was praying that someone would have a cheat sheet on words and their meanings.

For many individuals like myself, conversations revolving around technology are as foreign as speaking another language.  It is often far from easy and highly confusing and irritating to most end users when trying to communicate about problems you are dealing with and not being understood (or not understanding the solutions).  The problem is even worse for managers or executives that may need to communicate with their IT team regarding business troubles, solutions, or investments, and not being able to understand what is being said during the conversations. It’s difficult to think that there may be unnecessary spending or losses because of a miscommunication due to the fact that you or your management may not have sufficient technical knowledge.

To fix this potential problem, you do not need to learn technology from the ground up.  The truth is, that is why you hire your engineers and IT professionals.  As a manager or executive, on the other hand, it is vital that you get a decent understanding of the technology that your company uses on a regular basis, and to do that, it is important to start learning the language of Tech.

Though this may sound daunting, it is not as bad as you can imagine.  Here are a few simple steps that will assist you in learning to speak the language of your technology employees:

Ask Questions

I’ve found that most technology people don’t confuse you because they love to torture people.  The truth is that when they start using their technology jargon, they may not even realize they are doing it.  It’s their native language and to them it makes perfect sense.  When you are confused, just let them know.  Ask them if they can clarify what they are saying and keep asking questions until you understand the concepts.  Asking enough questions may help them to realize when they are being too technical and when they need to start trying to use more lay terms for end users.  It will be a learning process for both of you.

Keep a Cheat Sheet

When I first started at TNS, I kept a glossary of technology terms and acronyms that our guys used on a regular basis.  Just by typing these out with their definitions and reviewing when I had any hesitations, I was able to start practicing using them in context and finally being able to use them appropriately throughout my work day with my colleagues.

Remember the Obvious

Not everyone learns a new skill in a day.  You need to acknowledge that you are not going to learn everything about technology in a week and that it will take some time to learn the new terms and concepts and be able to apply them appropriately.  Also acknowledge that you are not an engineer.  Though it is important for you to have a certain level of understanding when it comes to technology, you should not expect to know everything.  Focus on the basics first and foremost and you can work on the more in-depth concepts and terminology later on.

Your primary goal should not be that you are fluent in technology, but rather aim to be conversational.  Do know that if you want to be fluent there is a lot of time and expense required, and if that is where your priorities are, then so be it.  If your goal is to have a basic understanding of your business technology so that you can more effectively participate in a decision making process, then I highly recommend taking a few minutes each day to speak with your technology employees and ask questions until you understand what is being stated.

Whether you have a basic understanding of tech lingo or not, feel free to contact us today to see how we can better equip you and your company with its technology needs.  We will explain our process and solutions in an easy-to-understand manner so that you have no confusion as to what is going on and know how your company can be more successful with a fully staffed IT team working for you.

By: Jennifer Totilo, Administration, The TNS Group

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