Communication – CompTIA A+ 220-1102 – 4.7

The key to a successful project is an open line of communication. In this video, you’ll learn about avoiding jargon, maintaining a positive attitude, avoiding interrupting, clarifying customer statements, and setting expectations.

We often don’t think of communication skills as being important to someone who’s working with technology. But in reality, it’s one of the best skills you can have when you’re working through the troubleshooting process. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult skills to be able to master. Being able to communicate with others and to be able to get ideas across can be very powerful, but it does take a bit of practice to become very good at it.

And indeed in information technology and really any industry, the better you are at communication, the more marketable you’re going to be. If you’ve learned anything in this course, you know that we love to use three letter acronyms and other types of technical jargon. This is a common way to communicate different ideas very quickly to others in our industry, but it can also be very confusing for someone who doesn’t deal with these acronyms on a daily basis.

So if you’re speaking to an end user about a problem they’re having with their system, it’s best to avoid this jargon and these acronyms, and instead describe the problem in terms that they would understand. You effectively have to be that translator between the technical and non-technical worlds. Whenever you communicate with others in a way that they can understand, then they’re put more at ease.

Very often the tense situations that sometimes occur when there’s a technical problem can completely change when everybody is able to communicate. And ultimately, there will be people in charge who are not technical that need to make decisions based on the information that you have. So being able to relay that information in a form that everyone can understand becomes very important.

And after a bit of practice, you’ll find it’s very easy to avoid using this acronym or this jargon. If you listen to any motivational speaker, they’ll tell you that maintaining a positive attitude will have a dramatic impact on your day to day life. This is certainly true in information technology because your attitude will determine how certain problems are resolved. You can use a positive tone of voice to partner with someone and make sure that they’re aware that you’re involved in fixing this particular issue.

And if this issue can’t be easily resolved, you can provide issues that can give them options on what they can do next. Your attitude has a dramatic impact on the entire troubleshooting process, and you’ll find that users are more willing to work with you throughout this troubleshooting process if you have a good attitude. We sometimes have a bad habit in this industry of interrupting people when they’re trying to explain to us the problems that they’re having.

This may be because we’d like to solve the problem quickly and go on to the next thing, or we would like to prove to someone that we really have the knowledge necessary to resolve the issue. It’s useful to get into the practice of actively listening when someone’s explaining the problem. And what you may want to do is take notes so that everything they say can be documented, and later on, you can explain back to them the things that you understand about their problem.

The key is to build a relationship with the customer. One of the best ways to do that is to have a conversation about the issue that they’re having. And if you can listen to this issue without interrupting throughout the process, you may find that you’re able to gather information that normally you would not have had. You’ll find this especially useful if you’re on a voice call where there’s no visual cues from the user on what they’re seeing or how they’re talking.

Instead, you can let them explain the issue and then there can be a question and answer process where you can gather more information. This is a challenging skill to perfect. But you may find that not interrupting during this process makes the entire troubleshooting process go much smoother. One of the first steps of the troubleshooting process is gathering information. And one of the ways you can do this is by clarifying customer statements.

During this process, the end user can explain what they’re seeing. And then you can ask clarifying questions that might bring up issues about error messages, things that were seen on the screen, or anything else that might help with the troubleshooting process. At this point, we’re not trying to question or challenge what the user is seeing. Instead, we’re trying to gather information about what they believe they saw on the screen.

During this process, you might want to repeat back to the customer the things that they just told you. This not only clarifies that you’ve written things down properly, the customer now knows that you were listening to everything they were telling you about this issue. And even if we think that this problem has a relatively obvious solution, it still makes sense to be able to ask some clarifying questions just in case the problem that they’re having is very different than what we initially thought.

There may be times when the user has to make a decision about what the next step should be during the troubleshooting process. This may be that a system has failed and we need to either repair the system or replace it completely. We need to offer these different options, so that the user can make a decision on what they’d like to do next. It’s always useful if you’re able to document this information and provide it in a way that could be referenced later.

This way everyone knows exactly what options are on the table and there’s no ambiguity with what direction we should go. It’s also important to keep everybody updated with what’s going on with the process. When we send something out to repair, it might be weeks before we receive that back. So providing weekly updates on the status can let the end user know that you’re on top of it.

And after that problem is resolved, we can check back in with the customer and confirm that everything is working to their satisfaction.