You’re better with tech than you think!

I was recently working with a new client who stated, emphatically, that she wasn’t good with technology. She is a creative type and very intelligent.  She knew how to use her IPhone, could cut and paste photos from websites, and was generally comfortable with her TV’s remote control.  It dawned on me that she wasn’t ‘bad with technology’, just intimidated by the unfamiliar. 

In my experience, this is a common affliction brought about by a combination of the dramatic proliferation of gizmos and apps of every sort and a bit of arrogance exhibited by the tech savvy.  This is truly unfortunate since the vast majority of consumer technology today is quite user friendly.  I will admit that I’m no Apple fanboy.  That said, Apple’s primary claim to fame is that its technology is easy to use and reliable.  I know this to be true because my 75 year old mother loves her iPhone.  She texts, plays games, posts to Facebook, and even Facetimes with the grandkids.   

The truth is, whether you use an Android phone, a Windows laptop, or your microwave oven, technology is pretty user friendly.  Heck, in many instances you can talk to your technology and tell it what to do (unlike your children).  So how do you get around your tech inadequacy issues?  Here are a few easy steps.

  1. Take a deep breath and relax.  Tech doesn’t bite.  It just sits there until you tell it what to do.  Even better, most tech tells you how to do it.  When you set up a new Windows computer, it walks you through the entire process.  Just follow the instructions.
  2. Download the manual.  The manual that comes boxed with most technology today is either limited to a quick start guide or a novel length book written in type that can only be read with a magnifying glass.  Manuals can vary in their degree of usefulness but one thing is certain, they are far easier to read when you can zoom the size of the text.
  3. READ THE SCREEN.  I usually try to avoid the ‘all caps yelling’ but this is a pet peeve.  Before you panic and call tech support (a/k/a your fifteen year old nephew), spend a moment reading what is on the screen.  Most of the time, it tells you exactly what you need to do.
  4. Look for ‘hidden windows’.  This one is totally on the technology companies and every time it happens to me, I send them a nasty email (which they immediately place in their trash folder). When installing a new program, Windows often needs to ask permission to make changes.  Until you give it permission, Windows assumes that someone is trying to do bad things and simply stops doing everything.  Sometimes when Windows asks for permission, the dialogue box is hidden behind another window.  To solve this problem, check the task bar at the bottom of the screen.  Look for something unfamiliar and click on it.  You will usually get a dialogue box asking permission to make changes. Click yes and you’re on your way.
  5. Get, and read, a book.  For widely used software, there is almost always an ‘Idiot’s Guide to____’ or a ‘____ for Dummies’.  I see new software as a joyous opportunity for discovery and will spend hours playing with it to determine its capabilities.  Normal people, on the other hand, actually need to get work done in a timely fashion.  For them (and most likely you), the time spent with a well written guide book is invaluable. 
  6. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.  Particularly with software, the first thing you should learn is how to ‘undo’ the last thing you did (this is one of those sentences you just gotta write).  For Windows users, this is almost always Control+Z or, on the Edit menu, ‘Undo’.   Beyond that, recognize that most mistakes can be fixed.  This is where Google becomes your best friend.  Your Word document formatting is screwed up?  Just Google “How to fix formatting errors in Word” and you’ll almost always find your answer.  Your printer is jammed and you can’t find the problem, Google “(insert printer model here) how to fix jam” and you’ll be all set.  For a handy little primer on how to effectively search Google, read this recent blog post.

There is an entire industry dedicated to making technology user friendly.  Really, it’s a thing now. It’s not a perfect science but it has improved dramatically since the days of MS-DOS or your first VCR.  So, when you feel intimidated by that new smart watch, just remember that we do not (yet) serve our robot masters and the tech is there to serve you (at least right now.  I, for one, look forward to serving my robot masters.).


About the Author: AF

Allen Friedman Founder and CEO of Techaerus LLC

Allen Friedman is the owner and CEO of Techaerus LLC, an office efficiency consulting firm. He is also a licensed attorney. Allen founded and managed one of the largest consumer collections law firms in the country and managed over 50 attorneys as well as hundreds of non-attorney staff. Prior to founding that firm, he opened and managed the New York and Michigan operations for the largest consumer collections firm in the United States. Throughout his career, Allen has always placed great emphasis on ensuring that investments in office technology provide the greatest possible returns. In order to achieve these returns, he focuses on three pillars of office management; asset management, training, and automation. His expertise includes document/image management, software and hardware integration, training, and process management and automation. Allen lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife Amy, his children Cassidy and Gideon, and two adorable dogs named Roxie (a labradoodle) and Bentley (an Old English Sheepdog).