You’re probably bad at talking to people. I don’t mean your friends you play D&D or Halo or whatever hip game people play now, I mean humans, like the guy who serves you coffee in the morning.
We’ve all had more than once instance where we said something and ended up with a room full of people staring at us because it wasn’t terribly nice or thoughtful. At the time you had no idea anything was wrong, you still might not.
This is the single biggest thing you have to learn not to do. Normal people have extremely thin skin. You can’t call them horrible things, they don’t like it. If you do it too often, they’ll just never talk to you again. We’ll get to this at a future date though.
Security people are mostly the sort of introverts who make other introverts look like party animals. When was the last time you talked to someone who when asked what a buffer overflow is first asks “heap or stack”? Who wasn’t your Mom?
But it’s not all bad. I’m going to pick on security people relentlessly on this blog. I’m going to make us look over the top silly sometimes, but that’s because the target audience isn’t the muggles, it’s to help us all get better at doing the things that have to happen to secure the world. If we don’t do this, nobody will and things will just keep getting worse. There are problems like none we’ve ever seen before, so we need solutions like we’ve never seen before. Our single biggest threat is a suit with swagger pretending to be a security person. We know they can’t be trusted, but who will listen to us?
Some of you don’t care and are probably going to disagree with everything I say. Some of you have to do this. You know you have to, you don’t want to, but that’s too bad.
So here’s how we’re going to look at this. Working with the regular people, we’re not trying to be like them, we’re going to pull off the greatest social engineering feat of our lives. We’re a smart group, nobody will disagree with that, so we’re going to use our extreme cleverness to fit in. We’ll still go home, put on an old t-shirt, make origami wookies, and drink Mountain Dew. While we’re at work though, we’re going to be business people. We’re going to dress nice, speak nice, and act nice. The only real difference than the actual business folks is we know we’re putting on a show, they don’t.
So for now, when you’re talking to someone, be mindful of what you say. Listen more than you speak. Be kind. If they get something wrong, don’t destroy them, politely suggest the right answer and if they don’t agree, move on, you won’t convince them any different. Ask questions, good questions. Don’t just talk at people, talk with them.
And most importantly remember the person you’re talking with is almost certainly a reasonable human trying to do what they think is right. It’s when you insult or try to belittle them that they turn into someone out to get you, so don’t treat them poorly.
We’ll talk about all this stuff more in the future, but for now just try to keep a cool head when you talk to someone, especially if they’re wrong.
Join the conversation, hit me up on twitter, I’m @joshbressers