The 5 users you meet in hell (and one you'll find in heaven)

Recognize any of these people -- the Know-It-All? The Finger-Pointer? The Whiz Kid? We thought so ...

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Oxxford's O'Keefe, who has been in help desk support for more than two decades, says he sometimes encounters a particular breed of users who don't think it's their job to do things like run Windows updates when instructed to do so.

"How do I deal with them? It depends on how [bleeped] off I want to make everyone," he says, only partially kidding. If O'Keefe sucks it up and does the update for the user, he makes a mental note to be sure the favor is returned someday.

Either way, managers suggest you try to hold your tongue, even when the problems are of the users' own making. In such cases, the Denver help desk manager suggests, resist the urge to rub mistakes in anyone's face. "Instead of saying 'you did this wrong' and pointing out their mistakes, I cushion the blow by simply explaining what happened," he says.

4. The Finger-Pointer


Finger-Pointers never think (or at least, never admit) that they're in any way to blame for any of their problems -- you are.

When their systems are running slow, they assume that IT must have "done something to the server." Their lost or misplaced documents and forgotten passwords must be the help desk's fault. And yep, their misdirected print jobs and lost e-mail folders are all part of a vast IT conspiracy to mess up their workdays.

You know you've got a Finger-Pointer on your hands when you hear phrases like, "Everything was fine and then my system just blew up. What'd you guys do?"

How to handle: You can't win battles with a Finger-Pointer, so don't try, help desk staffers say. If they're bold enough to insist you're to blame when they know deep down that you're not, there's no way they'll back down in a public arena, or even privately.

Do not get sucked into a you-said, they-said argument with a Finger-Pointer. The U.S. Navy's Lauderdale says it's hard to help someone like that, but suggests neutrality, even if you might have to feign it. "I try to say something like, 'Yeah, this software stinks.'" His goal, he says, is to give Finger-Pointers the feeling that they're not singled out, that others users are having trouble with a particular program or task.

That said, it's equally important to help users understand that IT policies and procedures are in place to protect company data, and that users and help desk staff are, in the end, on the same side, managers say. Clearly stated policies and procedures should help calm the user, ease the blame game and, best of all, protect IT's reputation.

5. The Twentysomething Whiz Kid


This person has dozens of freeware applications on his computer, along with three IM clients and a passel of unauthorized open-source software, and he knows how to use a proxy Web site to bypass the company firewall.

He's the Twentysomething Whiz Kid, a cousin to the Know-It-All, except that the Whiz Kid actually does know something about technology. You can engage in technical debates with the Whiz Kid. He has an opinion on whether non-GPL software can be dynamically linked to GPL libraries. In his cubicle, he has a stuffed Tux, the Linux penguin mascot. And he's highly likely to be a gamer, dude.

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