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10 Hacks to Communicate with Geeks

10 Hacks to Communicate with Geeks

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Featured photo credit: speak talk microphone tincan can/Ryan McGuire via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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