Skip navigation

Sometimes having an air of competence about you is a bad thing.  Don’t get me wrong. I don’t advocate incompetency at all.  And really, that’s the core of the problem.  Sometimes when you have an air of competency around you, you suddenly render those around you as incompetent, or it seems that they feel that way.  So, in working to become competent so that you can legitimately surround yourself with an air of competence, you make most everyone else around you incompetent.  Why??

Example: When I was in various school settings and living away from home, my roommates, housemate, female neighbors, etc would come to view me as their personal tech support service.  Certain things I can understand.  If you just did something particularly foolish on your computer and you know you did something particularly foolish but you don’t exactly understand what,  you don’t really want some male tech support personnel (because tech support is still mainly dominated by males [and I’m female if you hadn’t figured it out already]) rubbing it in your face and solidifying the stereotype in his mind that all females are woefully inept at all types of technology.  That’s where I come in handy because I won’t rub your face in it and will probably try and explain to you how exactly to prevent doing such foolish things in the future.  That’s totally fine.

What isn’t fine is how suddenly many people couldn’t even attempt to do simple tasks like plug in their printer (for fear that it might explode), change consumables like ink, paper, and whatnot themselves (for fear that it might explode), or even turning on their own devices (for fear that it might explode).  Ok, so I may have exaggerated and/or made some stuff up.  But honestly, I really think you should make an attempt at some of these things before you go looking for help.  If you’re really skittish, have someone sit with you and talk you through it.  I’m almost certain that the vast majority of people can do these tasks if they’d just attempt it for themselves.  Consumer devices are not engineered to explode when you accidentally do something wrong.  That’s considered Bad Engineering.  And you know how afraid major corporations are of being sued.  I’m pretty sure they’d be sued to death if they (un)knowingly sold devices that exploded at the least bit of provocation.  (End of example.)

Now, having thought about it, I’ve decided some people do automatically seek out the person with an air of competence because they are lazy; they’re looking for a handout.  The basic thought ends up being, “if you are capable of solving something, why should I solve it?  Thus I can save my brain for other tasks.”  Well, it shouldn’t work that way, especially in the work environment.  I firmly believe that if you were born with a brain, you should use it.  If you don’t, your brain will dry up into powder and be shaken out of your ears like some forms of earwax and  also come up out of your scalp like dandruff.  Do you have dandruff?  It may be because you are not using your brain enough (I just made this up now).  But seriously, why do you think you should have someone else solve your problems?  If you have made an honest stab at it and can’t figure it out, then I believe it is acceptable to ask for help.  If you haven’t and you just want someone to do your work for you, then of what use are you?  None.  No handouts.  Otherwise, you will soon go the way of dandruff and float away on the wind.  And someone will have to clean up after you.  Inconsiderate, all around.  Use your brain and make an honest effort first.

But perhaps I’m being unduly harsh.  Maybe the other person isn’t looking for a handout.  Maybe they just have self-esteem issues.  Maybe they are self-defeatist.  “Look at her!  She’s can do everything already!  I can’t do any of that!  I’m just going to ask her for help because she can do it so much better than I can.”  Um…how do you know that?  You haven’t tried.  Try to solve it yourself first.  Really, that’s all I’m asking.  Make an honest attempt.  You probably aren’t incompetent.  Most people are smarter than they give themselves credit for.  I realize that some people take to certain things better than others and not everyone is equally good at everything.  That’s fine.  I don’t expect everyone to be experts at everything they do.  I also am not saying that you should never ask for help.  I’m saying that before you automatically seek out the person that you deem competent, try to solve the problem yourself first.  And make sure it’s an honest attempt.  None of this, “I poked some button half-heartedly and nothing happened.”  A real attempt at solving the problem.  And this isn’t just for your electronic devices.  This goes for math problems, science labs, changing your tire (seriously, everyone should learn how to do this), a particularly hard puzzle, where you put your keys, how to spell “saponification,” and especially, ESPECIALLY, the task assigned to you at work.  ESPECIALLY.

Honest attempt!  Do it!  Ear wax!  Dandruff!  You’ve been warned!

Um…I guess this was a PSA of some sort.  Yeah…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: