We lean on each other to get through the tougher parts of life. On our best days, we are eager to help one another.
We watch a friend or colleague struggle with a new task that we have practiced. We want them to know that it will become second nature to them, too, once they get through it a few times. We want to give them hope and promise. We say:
With those six simple words, offered innocently, we introduce a heap of risk.
Have you ever struggled with a task, only to been told by someone else that “It’s easy!”?
How did that make you feel?
“It’s easy” is possibly the most commonly-tendered unwitting expression of condescension known to mankind. In the world of software deployment, in the context of The Invisible Propeller, it’s downright deadly.
It would take more than both hands of every software engineering and IT professional who ever lived to count the number of times that “It’s easy!” has made people pretend to know what they are doing when learning a software feature.
When “it’s easy” for you (a technology professional) and not for me (a “mere user”), why do I want to admit to you that I now feel like an idiot?
Is there a handy remedy for this? Try this on for size: instead of suggesting that something is easy, experiment with admitting that something is actually a pain in the neck, even if you no longer think it is. We all connect better with others when we come from below them, rather than from above them. In other words, keep a keen eye on lowering your status when helping others.
This doesn’t have to sound negative:
“This might be tricky the first few times you try it. Let me see how I can help you get there. Let’s try this together.”
Although this can create a strong human bond:
“Oh gosh, yes, this can be such a pain. Let me show you some tricks I’ve learned.”
These phrases are disarming. They are vastly more likely to result in open conversations that will get people to admit what they don’t know, without fear of feeling stupid. More pertinently, they are more likely to wind up helping your audience members get where they want to be.
It’s harder to do all this than it is to say “it’s easy.” But every time you try, you will gain momentum…and ultimately, you’ll become a more helpful human. That’s a nice place to be!
🎹 Music for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnI_ko3_r_c.