How to ask for [IT] Help

I originally was peeved with the way people were asking for IT help. It’s not the fact that they needed help (that’s what I’m here for and I’m glad to do it) – but it’s that they expect instant results without ANY effort or thought – which makes the task unnecessarily more difficult and aggravating. You can certainly use these suggestions for more than just IT help.

DOCUMENT THE issue

This is the first step in troubleshooting an issue and it’s a guaranteed way to get a good response from the person that’s going to help you. Re-create the issue, document what you did to get there, gather any surrounding facts, and present this information clearly. By providing all the background information, it shows that you aren’t simply “dumping” your issue/problem on someone else.

DO A LITTLE RESEARCH

Second to documenting the issue is researching the issue on your own. Come prepared (with your documentation as well); having exhausted your own knowledge and any readily available resources (a.k.a. Google). Present your issue, documentation, and what information (links, KB articles, FAQ’s, etc.) you’ve found on the subject.

Don’t wait until the last minute

Whether you’re a procrastinator or not, you simply can’t put your issue on someone else at the last minute. For one, If they don’t respond well to working under pressure, you’re not going to get a good solution – and you’ll probably get resistance. Give them time to troubleshoot and work out a solution for you. If you’re asking for advice, give them time to think it over, research, and provide you with their opinion.

Come prepared with a question

You’d think this was obvious… but a lot of times, people come just wanting to talk. They begin with telling a long drawn out story and by the time they are finished, you’re not sure how you’re supposed to respond to what they’ve said. If all you want to do is tell a story or let someone know what happened (and maybe you aren’t sure what you want out of the conversation) then preface the story by saying just that.

Acknowledge that you don’t know

You don’t know the answer and you can’t figure out the issue – that’s why you’re asking this person. Come prepared to hear and accept the answer or opinion. If you don’t like it – don’t use it. It’s one thing to question a persons reasoning for the answer they give… and it’s even ok to propose another idea based on what they say. However, immediately countering their suggestion or opinion or saying they are wrong is not acceptable. As are most things, it’s all in how you say it.

Think of it this way: you want something (an answer, a resolution, an opinion) out of someone else which will require their time and effort – put a little effort into it yourself. You may get a better result.