Being responsible for someone’s technical needs changes you. And it can be for the good or ill, depending on your temperament, threshold for stress, troubleshooting skills and, above all else, how you feel about people.

Some IT folks become jaded after years of doing technical support. It could be because they’ve seen and heard the same things for years and feel like they’re just spinning their wheels. Or it might come from an inability to relate to the people they’re helping. Over the years, I’ve found that what works for me is taking a moment to evaluate the experience after each case. I’ll often get off of a call and wonder: Did I just sound like a horse’s bum asking you to reboot? Did I sound jaded?

Just asking myself those questions propels me back to the empathetic core of what it means to be a Rippler, and a good person (they go hand-in-hand for me). You don’t ask for problems to occur, they just happen. Chances are pretty good that you haven’t spent the time that I have understanding the technology from the inside out. That’s why you’re calling me. The technology you use, whether it’s to design, manage billing, or create presentations is just a tool to get the job done. My job is make sure you can do your job, and I sometimes have to remind myself of the difference there. Tools are just tools.

Whenever I think I might be getting close to the jaded zone, I remember that your job isn’t getting the technology to work, it’s working with the technology to get things done. It’s my job to understand the imperfections of the technology, and to facilitate a great experience in overcoming those imperfections.

It’s a delicate balance, since the fact that we’re talking means the technology has somehow failed you. No doubt you’re having a bad day, having put being productive on hold to reach out for help. Ripplers know this in our hearts, and that’s what drives us: The challenge of turning a bad day into a good day. We want you to enjoy getting help from us. So, the little things like asking about your weekend plans, or sharing a laugh over a new viral video is important to the process. Because it’s not the technology that we want to help and build a relationship with, it’s you.