Skip to main content

It’s Hard to Find the Right Balance When You Need to Tell Someone There’s an Issue But You Don’t Need Help

·629 words·3 mins

I’ve mentioned it before, but my nesting partner is a lot more tech savvy than I am.

To be frank, a lot of people are more tech savvy than I am.

That said, I’m not the worst out there. I get by. I am pretty good at looking things up — and I’m a good communicator, so I do a decent job conveying issues to techy friends. The IT person at former day job was a little stunned at how well I followed their directions and asked followups; we became quite friendly.

And something I do, without even thinking about it, is when I have a specific issue that’s annoying to me, that inconveniences me by disrupting my workflow, and someone techy helps me troubleshoot it, I document the incident as well as I can. Then I put it somewhere that’s easy to access via multiple means (like a cloud folder that can be accessed via mobile or desktop and maybe even making hard copy printouts at my workplace as a last ditch backup).

So when I run into the same issue again, I can pull that up and try that thing first. The easy thing. The thing you don’t need credentials or any sort of admin access to do. The stuff you don’t need help with.

Because the truth of the matter is that if I can quickly work through an issue and not bother someone else, then I will do that.

Now, I don’t want to take something on and make it worse. So there’s a balance there. But the low-hanging fruit? The stuff right past “did you try turning it on and off again?” I can do that.

When You Need to Tell Someone There’s an Issue, But You Don’t Need Help

It’s been kind of funny though in practice in our home because my partner doesn’t seem to know what to do with that. It’s been an ongoing process working through how to communicate about tech issues.

At first, I didn’t tell him at all. I’d just fix it (using documentation that I’d created once he’d helped me with something). But then there was an issue one time that happened for months and months, and I was just quietly fixing it, and he got really upset because I only told him the first few times. “I wish you’d told me it was happening over and over again.”

So I’ve learned to always tell him whenever I have a tech issue, even if I can fix it myself.

However, I’d also learned that I shouldn’t tell him too much. Because if I start going into what exactly is going wrong with a tech issue, then he’ll start thinking I’m asking him to drop everything and fix it. Which I’m not. I’m just reporting so I’m not “hiding” something.

But recently, I think I finally got the right balance. Here’s what I said: “By the way, if I’m distracted for a bit, it’s because I’m troubleshooting a tech issue I’ve had before. I’m not going to walk you through it because I wrote guides for myself and don’t need your help (I hope). But I’m letting you know in case I’m acting funny or hard to reach.”

“Aww,” said my partner. “Okay, just let me know if you do need help.”

And then I sent him a screenshot of the instructions I was currently following, and said, “Thank you, but past Page documented your advice.”

He laughed. I troubleshot. It took a bit, but once it worked, I said, “Yay! Your past advice worked.”

It’s promising. We’ll see how it goes. It’s hard to find the right balance telling someone things are going wrong when you don’t need help. But this time at least I managed.


On the Importance of Communicating Well Enough (But Not Perfectly)
·365 words·2 mins
Why & How to Stop Over-Explaining
·514 words·3 mins
The Complaining Gap
·814 words·4 mins
Communication Relationships