pet peeve: the escalating rumor mill based on tech-speak

Chief Security Monkey has a story post today about being careful what you say as an IT expert:

I went back to my friend, told her that there was nothing unusual on the IDS and mentioned the targeted Word attack that had been reported [by another company] and its similarities. Unfortunately, the helpdesk tech overheard our conversation and subsequently reported back to his boss that I said we were infected and that was the cause.

Oh man, I really hate that! And some people wonder why we become a little guarded and seriously careful about what we say! I’ve had occassion where I’ve responded to spyware or virus and mentioned something about attackers or hackers and the gossip centers on just one word that you can easily guess: “We’ve been hacked!” I’ve had sales people email each other for hours escalating the issue just amongst themselves before someone had to step in and tell them to shut up because it wasn’t true.

Of course, this happens in IT as a whole too. I hate having to say, “Well, in our environment we really can’t implement technology X very well at all…” only to have their Geek Squad son say, “Sure they should be able to do that!” which causes me months and months of grief and point-counterpoint.

Again, I say, it’s no wonder we can quickly become guarded and quiet unless absolutely sure about something.

So, to spin this back around into something positive, how does one combat this? I think it is just all about people skills and communication skills. Make sure people know you as the expert and that mistakes or misstatements can still happen, but you’ll gladly offer correction as needed. Don’t be afraid to be wrong and don’t be so arrogent that everyone wants to hold your mistakes over your head for years to come. Learn who the drama queens are in the company, and be extra careful what you discuss with them.

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