Re: Asking SMEs?

Subject: Re: Asking SMEs?
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 06 Jan 2005 16:06:37 -0500

Downing, David wrote:

Yes, I've found this to be a kind of vicious circle. Because you're shy
and don't approach SME's very often, they treat you as an intruder when
you do, which vindicates and reinforces all your fears about approaching
them, which keeps you from doing so for a long time, which makes them
more likely to see you as an intruder and treat you as such, which then
further vindicates and reinforces your fears about approaching them,
which then ...

I'll say again what I said earlier in this thread. The average SME is cut from the same cloth as the average TW, in terms of shyness. You know the joke:

Q: How can you tell if an engineer is an extravert?
A: He stares at *your* shoes.

The perceived unfriendliness of SMEs is more often than not just an expression of their own shyness. Don't people accuse you, David, of being "unfriendly," "rude," "hostile," etc., when you know full well you're none of those things? Well, it works the other direction, too.

At my last job I went out of my way to let everyone know that I would be more than happy to help them out with both their work-related graphics needs and their "government jobs"--things like designing, typesetting, and printing party invitations or holiday cards, for example, or printing business cards for their spouses' home businesses. I arranged for the latter to be a company-sanctioned perk that everyone was entitled to take advantage of. (My argument was that people were going to do these jobs on company equipment and company time regardless, and it would cost less for me to do it quickly than for them to struggle with it endlessly.) And when someone did screw up the courage to ask me to do something like that, I was always as smiling and accommodating as I could be. The sales, marketing, and management types took advantage of the service I offered. Most of the engineers, though, either never approached me or did so only reticently and timidly, as if I was going to bark at them. Many times I'd be walking past an engineer's cube and he or she would be struggling (for hours or days, it seems) with some little graphic chore; when I'd offer assistance, they'd act as if my time was so valuable that they hadn't dared to ask me. Yet when I approached them to help me with some bit of coding on the company's Web site (my responsibility, not theirs), the same people were always delighted to be helpful.

My point is just that you can decide, based on this sort of knowledge, not to _act_ shy, no matter how you feel deep down. Just smile and ask people to help, when it's appropriate. Eventually, you'll get used to acting that way, and the positive feedback will help alleviate the negative feelings.



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RE: Asking SMEs?: From: Downing, David

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