Cover by Gary A. Donahue

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How Not to Be a Computer Jerk

The computer industry is known for attracting a certain type of individual: the archetypal “computer guy” who thinks he’s smarter than everyone around him and talks to people like they’re idiots because they don’t know what the fuser does in a laser printer. To be fair, most people in the industry are not like this—and not all of the ones who are this way are guys!

What is it that makes these people the way they are, and why are they attracted to the computer industry? While I don’t have any studies to back me up, I have made some observations over the years, both of myself and of others. Yes, I’ll admit I was one of these annoying people in a past life, and I’ll share with you how I recovered to become a successful professional.

There are a couple of things that contribute to the computer jerk phenomenon. Some of them are self-induced, and some are environmental. Some computer jerks are actually nurtured (usually unconsciously) by peers and leaders, though people in these positions often have the power to turn them around. After you examine these traits and influences, my hope is that you’ll be able to help someone you know—or perhaps even yourself—to become a more balanced, useful computer person rather than a computer jerk.

In my opinion, the primary influences fall into three principal categories.

Behavioral

Everything we do is based on habit, including our patterns of interaction. If you’re used to dealing with people a certain way, you will tend to ...

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