Interpersonal skills count

I’ve written about this a number of times in terms of working in tech support, but a conversation the other day reminded me why it’s important in every aspect of IT work. I was talking with Douglas Welch, in an interview for his podcast that’ll be released in Feb. sometime, and he asked about what reasons our CIO approached me when it came time to create this additional Litigation Support position. I answered that, well for one, obviously, I had done pretty well in my time working at the help desk, and had the opportunity to display the technical chops, and creative solutions, but also because I managed to “keep my head about me when confronted with angry attorneys”.

It was a quick one-off sort of comment during that conversation, but later, I harkened back to my repeated advice for tech support workers, and realized that it was those interpersonal skills that allowed our CIO and my current supervisor to feel comfortable moving me into Lit Support. After all, if I couldn’t keep my head, and couldn’t interact with our internal attorneys, there’s no way they could trust me to interact with our clients!

Since I’m not answering help desk calls all day long, I sort of put interpersonal skills out of my immediate thought processes, but after thinking about the conversation with Douglas, I realized that they are still a very important part of what I do. Whether meeting with a client and their IT person to handle e-Discovery preservation issues, to getting instructions from paralegals about how they want cases set up in Summation, to working directly with an attorney to put together a presentation for trial, and a thousand other small interactions, my job is really all about helping our clients and attorneys navigate technology. That, obviously, takes technical know-how, but that know-how is pointless if I can’t communicate it!

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