I have some good news. You don’t have to learn Klingon, write in code, or reset a secret password to communicate with geeks. Geeks represent many different types of people–video gamers, computer scientists, science fiction bookworms, theater geeks, mathematicians, and engineers. The list goes on. With such a diverse group, it can be difficult to know what to talk about. Often, geeks can feel just as awkward as you might.
When approaching a geek, you don’t have to be afraid. They won’t bite and they won’t transport you into a world so foreign that you’ll never be able to escape. Although, they’ll gladly take you there if you’d like.
Here are 10 hacks to effectively communicate with geeks.
1. Don’t disturb the geek
Geeks love to engulf themselves in their work. While they may be interested in talking with you at some point, it’s best to let the geeks finish their work. At least let them notice you before you barge in and start talking at them. Respect the geek domain and respect the geeks when they are in their domain.
2. Find something geeky to talk about
The easiest way to relate to geeks is to speak their language. If a geek is into computers, ask a question about a computer problem you’re having! They love to talk about things they really know well. Often, you can’t get them to stop talking once they feel comfortable opening up to someone who is interested in learning about their favorite topics. Do a little research about a topic you know they will enjoy talking about.
3. Be absolutely clear about what you want
Typically, geeks don’t enjoy making small talk or beating around the bush. When approaching a geek for advice, get to the point. You will save yourself a lot of awkward conversation. Set clear expectations about the result you want to achieve, instead of focusing on the process to get there. Let the geek help you with what he or she does best.
4. Don’t talk at the geek to fill in gaps in conversation
Geeks can be overwhelmed with too much chit chat. They aren’t interested in talking about life just to talk about life. They want to get to the root of the conversation. If there is an awkward silence, the geek is most likely formulating a calculated response to such a vague question. “Does not compute” plays over and over in a geek’s head.
5. Respect the geek’s valuable time
Geeks love to spend time doing what they love. Even though it may not make sense to what they enjoy spending time doing, respect that it takes time to do it. Don’t assume that geeks are doing busy work to pass the time. Geeks are smart people but it can still take a lot effort to solve the problems at hand. It may come easy to them, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take effort to do it.
6. Approach the geek with caution
Don’t barge into a geek’s domain. They aren’t typically excited to see you when they are in their geek worlds. They don’t want to be excitedly tapped on the shoulder or talked over. Allow the geek to approach you when he or she is ready. Let the geek come to you and make eye contact. They don’t like to be abruptly interrupted, because it takes their attention away from their valuable work.
7. Request the geek’s unique expertise
Geeks love to help when they can! Often, it’s surprising to geeks when other people are genuinely interested in what they do. They love when they are asked to help someone solve a problem. Geeks are often great problem solvers who will do anything to find the answer. They want to help but just need know exactly what the problem is.
8. Be prepared to listen to geek language
Even though geeks love to help, they might assume that you know they language they speak. To an outsider, some of the language may be boring or uninteresting. To a geek, it’s like reciting a Shakespearean sonnet. Ask questions to clarity but remember that they aren’t speaking in a secret language or code.
9. Respect the geek’s space
Don’t start messing with the geek’s toys, computers, notes, books, etc. There is a reason they are placed the way they are and it’s not something that’s “cute”. Geeks are passionate about what they own and what they love to do. They aren’t stuck in their childhood or have attachment issues. Some just enjoy building models and strategically placing action figures all over the house. It brings them great joy. Don’t mess with their joy.
10. Treat them as people, not as foreign aliens from a galaxy far, far away
Many geeks like to escape to fantasy worlds and are enthralled by these worlds, sometimes to a fault. Deep down though, geeks are people just like anyone else. They want to be treated and respected as people. They may have a roundabout way of expressing their needs, but they definitely don’t like being treated as if they are, indeed, foreign.
The next time you want to communicate with a geek, remember these 10 tips as you approach a geek in his or her domain. You don’t have to figure out their secret code to get their attention. They are people first, and their unique geekiness is another awesome part of who they are.
Just remember to proceed with caution as you enter into that realm of uniqueness.
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