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How Do You Deal w/ User Induced Stress?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the 10-mississippi-9-mississippi-8-mississippi... dept.

Education 171

Anonymous asks: "I've worked as a Network/System Administrator at a small company for two years now. It's my nature to remain calm and collected while trying to accommodate everyone, even when having a particularly stressful day. After two years though, I've recently found myself being stressed all the time and my calm, cool exterior is starting to show some cracks. How do Slashdot readers cope with the stress induced by a highly demanding job and being stalked by users asking for the same thing over and over (i.e. password resets, login problems, how do you...)?"

cancel ×

171 comments

Easy... (4, Funny)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960384)

Stupidity Induced Beatings.

Re:Easy... (1)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960597)

Or you could just laugh at them behind their back.

Re:Easy... (3, Informative)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960984)

BOFH: http://www.theregister.co.uk/odds/bofh/ [theregister.co.uk]

--That, and you NEED to be able to take TIME OFF from work to recover your sanity. Motorcycling helps. Martial arts may help. Spongebob might even help. :)

--And if all else fails, get the Hell out of your current job and try something different - don't wait until it's too late.

That sounds like... (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961621)

...a valid dogbert tactic [techcomedy.com] (point 19). Unfortunately, dilbert.com seems to no longer exist, and I can't see any archives of the actual cartoon anywhere, but nevertheless would probably get legal threats if I dug out and posted a copy on the 'Net.

Re:That sounds like... (1)

Wudbaer (48473) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961718)

Unfortunately, dilbert.com seems to no longer exist

HUH ? About a minute ago it was still there... is your employer filtering you ? ;-)

Re:Easy... (1)

polle404 (727386) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961809)

I go with the percussional learning curve.
The more you scream at the lusers and beat them with a 4 by 4, the more they learn.

ofcourse, being a frontline techsup going on the 7'th year now, I'm not in danger of getting stress-related problems again, as I've had them all, already.
At this point in my life, I probably wouldn't even blink at a nuclear holocaust, if it incurred during workhours, that is.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

DaoudaW (533025) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960385)

First first That's a stress reliever...

Do your job? (1)

higuy48 (568572) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960395)

Feel powerful and revel in the knowledge that you hold the fate of the company in your hands, holder, purveyor and wielder of technology.

Define Stress (3, Insightful)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960399)

In today's economy everyone is working to the point where they don't even know what stress is anymore. There is no "normal days" to remind us what work was supposed to be like.

SIG comment (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961785)


"I'd like to thank everyone that waved with all five fingers."

- from GWB's recent press conference in Ottawa

"today's economy" (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 9 years ago | (#10962039)

I hear this phrase all the time, and I don't know what it means. Do you mean that "today's" economy is fundamentally different than say, 10 years ago? Are we talking post-Soviet world politics? Post Iraq war? Post dot-bomb bubble? Post New Deal? Post Great Society? When HAVENT people been "working to the point where they don't even know what stress is anymore", unless they had some sinecure union job that only required 20 hours a week?

Serenity Now... (2, Funny)

Plac3bo (651890) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960401)

...Insanity Later.

Or your boss, for that matter? (5, Funny)

saarbruck (314638) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960402)

Against my recommendations, my boss just added a slew of new feature requirements to my project, so now I'm spending even more late nights at work trying to make magic happen. He stops by my office a couple times a day all chipper and excited, and it's all I can do not to strangle the dillweed. How does one professionally convey the message, "I don't like you, I don't respect you, you're not qualified for the job you're doing, get the hell out of my office and let me work." ?


I'd love to know.

Re:Or your boss, for that matter? (5, Funny)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960458)

You dont speak his language.

"The cost/benefit ratio increases dramatically, along with exponentially increasing time to deployment, in that our competitors have a much increased chance of overtaking our solutions.

My suggestion is that we freeze features for a specified version, and branch our software when we feel that our profit margin is maxed. This would guarantee that we would force our customers to upgrade on our cycle, thus guaranteeing future profits."

I'm a network engineer in the consulting "business". In order to maintain contracts, you have to do the talk, and speak the language. Money and time are all that matter.

Re:Or your boss, for that matter? (1)

RicRoc (41406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961178)

This is the best reply I've read all day!

Threatening with quitting, posting "humorous" cartoons, growling and bitching are other suggestions. All these only help widen the gap between "them" and "us", providing fertile ground for future misunderstandings. Learn to talk the talk and walk the walk. Then your future consultations will build bridges out of the walls that keep you apart.

Re:Or your boss, for that matter? (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960478)

I suppose it depends on your job, job security, size of corporation, ease of replacement ... but I find that a good dose of snarkiness [inxile-entertainment.com] can help a long way. Or, with a bit of management support (?!?), we've basically had OT outlawed. You can still do it (and we get paid for OT still), but need prior management approval first. This just delays the projects - does wonders for cutting out the crap.

Re:Or your boss, for that matter? (2, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960507)

Postal service employees came up quite an effective solution to this problem. It may even be that their new placement as a result of this solution was less stressful than their old one.

Re:Or your boss, for that matter? (2, Funny)

treerex (743007) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960514)

Start trolling for relevant Dilberts and tape them to the door of your office or wall of your cube. Then start putting them in more conspicuous locations, like the bulletin board over the photo-copier or the lunch room refrigerator.

You can also write your letter of resignation, print it out, and put one of those "Sign Here -->" Post-It notes on it. Put a pen on it and leave it on your desk. He'll get the message.

Re:Or your boss, for that matter? (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961394)

One of our PHBs has cut out the middle-man. He prints his own Dilberts out and sticks them to his own office door... especially the ones where the PHB is being particularly detatched from reality.

Re:Or your boss, for that matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961505)

Is he into giving blow jobs to himself as well?

Re:Or your boss, for that matter? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961640)

don't meet the deadlines..

seriously, if you TOLD him that you wouldn't be able to meet the deadlines you shouldn't meet them -on your own expense-.. if you work crazy overtime to meet them and get the thing done by the deadline, then the boss was right and you were wrong(and he'll feel like the king of the world for being such super manager and knowing better than you what you can get done).

the worst thing you could do for yourself would do silent overtime...

Re:Or your boss, for that matter? (1)

Maavin (598439) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961686)

saarbruck ?

Do you live there ?!

Simple (0)

notyou2 (202944) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960406)

Simple... shoot 'em.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10960431)

Yeah, I was going to recommend Quake III too.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10960464)

We're coming for you Michael. -- FBI

Its easy! (0)

BrittinFLA (829359) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960418)

A Handgun and a lot of ammo' :-) SWAT will get me eventually but I'll take a good few users down first!!

Oh I forgot, some /. readers are from England ummm for them I'd suggest harsh words or possibly an airgun LOL!

Two words... (1)

cuteseal (794590) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960423)

Extreme cynicism....

Go on a shooting rampage... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10960427)

in your office with a big-ass Nerf gun.

Re:Go on a shooting rampage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10962055)

While temting, I don't know if thats a good idea.. The head of my old lab didn't like us shooting each other with airzookas. I don't think he fully understood what we were doing, and I can imagine a PHB would be even worse with a nerf gun in "his" office :-(

Well... (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960442)

How about psdoom [sourceforge.net] , or perhaps just some good ol' fragging in general. Also helps to get with coworkers who deal with the same lusers and comiserate. And, if you got a really bigtime luser with a decent attitude, you can always start the practical jokes. Although, if you follow this route, be sure that all will be taken in jest, and be open to some retaliation....

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10960476)

I've always wanted to try that version of Doom, but I'm afraid that The Gimp is going to sneak up behind me, if you know what I mean.

Re:Well... (2, Interesting)

treerex (743007) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960524)

Amen. Several years ago on a very stressful project we setup a Nintendo 64 on the big video conference televisions and had four way death matches every day at 18h00 --- it was the perfect way to relieve the tension.

At a previous job one of the engineers created a Doom map of the corporate head quarters, with appropriate facial skins... he got in a hell of a lot of trouble but it was fun while it lasted.

Beware ... (1)

zonix (592337) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961605)

Psdoom is great!

But beware, shooting at crowds will make the monsters kill eachother (e.g. your X session), potentially taking you down with them. :-)

z

Vodka... (2, Funny)

Gangis (310282) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960449)

...Lots of it. Won't make the problem go away but it'll make you feel better for a while. Job security isn't guaranteed though.

baseball bats and dirty clothes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10960462)

Quit bathing and quit changing your clothes. after a week or so, they wont bother you for the trivial things anymore. after a month, they'll start to consider whether the question is important _before_ they ask.

for those that wont learn, there's the traditional blunt object treatment. Myself, i prefer knives; i figure if they're that stupid then just injuring them isnt that useful; may as well remove them from the gene pool entirely. A beaten user will make noise and otherwise stay annoying, a dead one can be sold to the feed mill.

More seriously, unless you're helpdesk tech or otherwise being paid for kindergarten-grade kindness, DONT BE SO KIND. The second time someone asks you the same question, require they write down the answer, and explain that you havent the time to waste on things they should have learned by now.

Know you're not alone. Read the BOFH stories and alt.sysadmin.recovery; and know your pain is shared.

Wiki (5, Interesting)

akmolloy (686919) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960482)

I've recently installed a Wiki for our staff, and if I get a question more than once, I add a little How-To for that subject to the Wiki. Now the first question I ask people is if they've checked the Wiki... it's amazing how people have sort of embraced it and are populating it themselves.

Re:Wiki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10960654)

Awesome idea. I suggested a FAQ in another post, but a wiki will let people who have problems feel like they have a hand in fixing them. The worst thing about having a problem you can't fix yourself is that you feel like your time is wasted. If you can learn from it and help others at the same time, it's not as annoying.

Re:Wiki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10960942)

That's an excelent idea for a medium/large company. Small companies could probably get away with a text file.

The other two issues though. I'd be curious to know what the password policy is.
If he is enforcing a non-sensical passwords policy (random words/characters) I've not got a lot of sympathy for the guy.

Login problems... Hard to know, but logon problems are usually account issues, not people problems.

The question reads to me like whining. Not arrogant or angry enough to be stratjakt, but not polite or informative enough to be genuine either.

Re:Wiki (4, Interesting)

spacecowboy420 (450426) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961177)

Did that, it kinda worked for the geekier, but the others would complain they didn't have time and had just a simple question.

Ultimately, I took the low-tech way out, I created an IT request form they had to manually fill out and deposit in my mail drop - I checked them once or twice a day. It at least makes them TRY to deal with their problems themselves since they hated filling out the form, and the turn around could be a bit. I had the VP send out the an email detailing the protocol so it seemed to be out of my hands. Worked wonders.

Re:Wiki (1)

Zapman (2662) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961978)

If you're company is large enough to have a dedicated helpdesk, that helps a lot. So empower them. Give them limited rights to do the silly stuff that wastes your time, but is required for the smooth running of any IT shop, like changing passwords, releasing emails from spam quarantine, etc.

--Jason

Re:Wiki (2, Insightful)

anti-trojan (741754) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961186)

A related idea is to launch an issue tracking system (ala Bugzilla). Delay requests that they submit to you via other methods (phone etc) and even the toughest ones will eventually begin to use it.

Some tips... (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960497)

The best way not to be annoyed by users is, um, not to be annoyed by users:

1) Make a form for everything; web form, paper form, whatever.
2) Take away all admin rights. This keeps them from annoying you with things they fscked up. If they need anything important, see #1.
3) Don't do "training". If they can't figure out how to do their jobs, what the hell are you teaching them for?

Re:Some tips... (1)

phsdv (596873) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961068)

the IT group did that where I work. Now you never get anything done anymore within 6 to 8 weeks (thats the time needed to get all the signatures on the form). The results is that the users are now annoyed...

LET IT OUT! (4, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960508)

The worst thing to do with stress/emotion is to hide it and keep it away. Sure, there are definitely occasions when you need to keep your cool, but if you fid yourself having to do it constantly every day, get out fast. You will find yourself doing something rash and stupid which you will most definitely regret later on if you let it all build up.

Wild idea (4, Interesting)

PurpleFloyd (149812) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960529)

First, I'd like to say that it's excellent you can keep your sanity in your job; lots of sysadmins deal with these problems by simply going hyper-cynical or homicidal [ntk.net] .

However, an idea might be to ask your boss about the possibility of hiring a minimum-wage intern. When I was in college, I would have cheerfully killed to get a job working in IT that provided real-world experience, rather than cleaning greasetraps or restocking warehouses. You'd have to be careful about trustworthiness, but a minion to answer phones, deal with users who habitually leave caps lock on, and make coffee could significantly decrease your workload while not costing your company too much money.

Your boss might well go for it, especially if you explain that there's just too much work for one person, and that you can either get an intern or hire another full-time IT worker. This way, your plan actually saves money (at least compared to the alternatives you present). Even if the boss doesn't go for it, there's very little to lose by trying it. Good luck!

Re:Wild idea (1)

Kosi (589267) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961552)

In other words, you suggest a PFY for everyone. Fine with me!

The answer is in the headline (2, Funny)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960543)

Reset passwords, create login problems...

start a mini help desk audio file (2, Funny)

zogger (617870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960580)

next time you have to go through an explanation, record it. Make a label for the entry. Accumulate different topics until you have a nice fat cd full of subjects.. Use labels like "AAAk! no password" and "browser is slow/doesn't work" "where's my email?" "how do I..." whatever. Along those lines, with the appropriate response. Burn a lot of CDs with the info, then just smile, hand one over to the latest customer, say "it's on there, first cd is free,you lose it, after that it's ten bucks". Or alternate, run it on the network internally with a pointer to it.

The CD version may not relieve the stress, but at least it will cover beer and aspirin money.....

Take a deep breath... (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960590)

Remember, for the vast majority of users, their requests are reasonable, and you are just doing your job. Have some self-control, learn not to let every little thing stress you out.

Its not your environment, its how you approach your environment. Remember, you are a clueless user as well, don't think you are special because you know a bit about computers.

Here's what I do... (4, Interesting)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960591)

This completely depends on whether or not it's your job to handle these things immediately. If it is, then you're kind of out of luck as not doing them means you're not doing your job.

I'm also guessing that you don't mind helping the "nice users" who only ask the "how do I" type questions once and maybe come back again asking for some clarifications on the "why" part of the particular question; I love these users, as they want to learn and help me do my job.

For the users who fit into the "I'll use the admin as my manual" type, quit being nice. Explain something once and, when they ask the same question again, hand them a note pad and remind them that they asked you that same question sometime previously. Suggest that notes be taken. On the third offense, hand them a 3.5 card with "http://www.google.com" written on it and tell them that you are an administrator and that you are more than happy to help them learn a particular concept, but you just don't have the time to be their personal man page.

Do note that to "quit being nice" does not mean to treat them like crap, yell, scream or otherwise throw a fit. I'm trying to get these users to quit using my brain and start using theirs. I'm more than happy to help them with some bit of wisdom once they've demonstrated to me that they're not just lazy.

Passwords I handle in a similar manner. I have the "Monday password club" on my whiteboard with the name of everybody who asks me to reset their password Monday morning because they just can't remember it after a two day weekend. It takes two consecutive Mondays to make the list. Next to the names are the number of "successful" and "failed" Mondays. Passwords are reset to "IForgotMyPasswordXXWeeksStr8" where XX is the number of weeks on the whiteboard. The smarter of the users will come down when they've forgotten their passwords and see my tally. After four weeks on the board, the users are sufficiently trained and I remove their names.

Re:Here's what I do... (4, Insightful)

spiralscratch (634649) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961038)

After four weeks on the board, the users are sufficiently trained and I remove their names.

No, they've learned to write down their passwords on post-it notes stuck to their monitors or elsewhere. Or, their password is "password" or their name or something similarly stupid.

They may stop calling on this because they think you're berating them (though I don't), or they may finally feel some guilt. But I can almost guarantee they are not learning anything useful from this.

Re:Here's what I do... (1)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961588)

No, they've learned to write down their passwords on post-it notes stuck to their monitors or elsewhere. Or, their password is "password" or their name or something similarly stupid.

Yep. But they leave me alone. :)

In today's IT market, I can't afford to have my projects slip because I'm being a nice guy. At best I'll tell them "open a trouble ticket and I'll get to it" so that I have documentation of how short a particular problem user's memory is.

Re:Here's what I do... (1)

spiralscratch (634649) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961721)

Yep. But they leave me alone. :)

In today's IT market, I can't afford to have my projects slip because I'm being a nice guy.

But can you afford the gaping security holes this creates?

Sure, if something bad happens the person who had their password taped to their keyboard will get tossed, but what about the damage caused? And guess who gets to clean up the mess and doesn't have time for it.

If I can get aging, complacent government workers to recognize the importance of using decent passwords and not have them call every week for a reset, it can't be too hard.

Re:Here's what I do... (1)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961798)

Not my problem. There's another department that handles security. I'm not in it and, according to my boss and the boss of the security department: "Don't even think about security, it's not your concern."

I've given up on the whole "IT Career" deal and it's just punching a clock at this point. Any attempts to go above and beyond for the company have been met with blank stares, at best, and disciplinary action, at worst. I do exactly what I'm told, no more, no less.

Re:Here's what I do... (1)

TechieSidhe (621990) | more than 9 years ago | (#10962289)

What about a random password audit? For example, set up a PC in IS, or use yours. Take a random sampling of user names. Then, try to log in with their ID and the word "password" or any other generic word you give them when you reset their passwords? You could give the users a notice before you do it, and that gives them time to change it before you audit.

Re:Here's what I do... (2, Informative)

spiff42 (718678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961173)

>Passwords are reset to "IForgotMyPasswordXXWeeksStr8" where XX is the number of weeks on the whiteboard.

Remember not to do this with old-style crypted (DES-based) passwords, since only the first 8 characters (and only 7LSB of these characters) are used, so "IForgotM" will work too. ;-)

/Spiff

Re:Here's what I do... (1)

Hank Reardon (534417) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961597)

Not a problem in our network; all boxes use the nice, long shadow passwords or some home-brewed PAM/LDAP abortion.

Re:Here's what I do... (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961710)

That doesn't matter. It's the hashing algorithm that the grandparent is talking about. Make sure it's MD5 or SHA1, and not DES. DES will ignore everything after the 8th character, regardless of LDAP/PAM/shadow.

Oh, and now I can share my I-think-I-am-going-to-stab-you stupidity story. I work for the "A-triple-C" (Academic Computing and Communications Center [uic.edu] ). Some guy comes in and needs his password reset. Fine. I tell him he needs to visit passwords.accc.uic.edu to pick a permanent password. His reply? "How do you spell ACCC?" It's bad because he spelled out A-C-C-C himself! I think I was so shocked by the stupidity that I just answered the question and locked myself in my office...

Ah, and then there's the no food and drink policy in the computer labs. People always have great reasons on why they can have a drink in the lab ("I'm God! No really!"). Anyway, I come up to this woman and ask her to put her Diet Pepsi away. Why can't she do that? She's diabetic and needs sugar-water or soda for her diabetes. I kind of gave her a weird look and said "but doesn't that not have sugar in it?" She gave me the "damn. you're not that dumb" look and then left when I asked for ID. She wasn't even affiliated with the University.

FAQ? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10960636)

"being stalked by users asking for the same thing over and over (i.e. password resets, login problems, how do you...)"

If you have a large number of people asking the same things over and over again, you ought to have (as the name suggests) a FAQ. Keep it up to date and relevant to the problems people have, and it will save you (and them) time.

If a bunch of people are confused about the same issue, maybe the process they have to follow should be made more user friendly? Usually when a lot of people have the same problem, it is a genuine problem, and not them being idiots. If they *are* idiots there's not much you can do to fix that, so try increasing user-friendliness first. :D

Keep in mind there is a good kind of lazy. Any tools you can create to save work for yourself and others in the future, is the good kind of lazy. So spend a couple hours writing a shell script, so that you can save 20 minutes each time a problem comes up again and again. Eliminate mindless repetitive tasks as much as possible, and you'll save yourself time, and the time you do work will be more enjoyable.

Easy (0, Troll)

jrivar59 (146428) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960668)

I particularly enjoy subscribing users to inappropriate mailing lists:

- BSDM/Beastiality Mailing Lists
- Homosexual Lists
- Cult religious/political groups

For truly obnoxious users, snail mail is even better. I once had free samples of depends undergarments delivered to a (l)user.

For more inspiration, consult the BOFH [ntk.net] .

Re:Easy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10960687)

Well I'm really glad that you consider homosexuals as inappropriate and on the same level as cults and people having sex with animals.

To me it sounds like it is you who is the really obnoxious user.

Re:Easy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961019)

Right, because where I work, they encourage us to look at homosexual porn, but not any other type.

Cut back on responsibilities (4, Interesting)

cyberman11 (581822) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960715)

I find that cutting back my responsibilities in all areas of life helps. For example, if I'm having money problems, I move to a cheaper place, drive a cheaper car, etc... When my home life and personal life feel comfortable and easily manageable, with enough free time for fun stuff, I can handle work stress way more easily. If work is the only source of stress in my life, and I can't handle it, I cut back my work hours. If management expects, for example, sixty hours a week for my salary, then I give them two weeks notice of my change in availablility to fewer hours with a proportional reduction in salary. If I can't handle the salary reduction, then I've got to cut my expenses. It's simple. If I'm stressed out, that means I'm asking myself to do too much. Sometimes a humble life is the best life.

Re:Cut back on responsibilities (1)

ottawanker (597020) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961029)

Except that after you're back down to 40 hours they'll slowly stretch you back to 60. After a few of these cycles, you'll still be working 60 hours a week, trying to make your money stretch because you're making way less, and you'll be even more stressed.

Re:Cut back on responsibilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961820)

What you are saying is that, we don't know how to simplify our life

Coping with Stress (1)

immortal (145467) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960734)

Read www.techtales.com. It shows there is always someone dumber.

Exercise! (5, Interesting)

krs-one (470715) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960768)

Seriously, exercise, to me at least, is one of the best stress relievers.

I'm an amateur bodybuilder working his way up so I would normally be training in the gym everyday anyway, but its great to go in the gym after a day of dealing with users/customers and slamming some iron around. The weights don't care how you treat them, its great. Plus, when you've got 400lbs on your back, the last thing you're worried about is why Susie Q. can't duplicate an event on her calendar.

Finally, exercising, even a little amount just 3 days a week (think 20 minutes 3 days a week, 1 friggin hour!) will change your life drastically. You'll sleep better, find you naturally eat better, and are much less stress free.

Sorry to sound so preachy, but I used to be a fat computer nerd, and I started training, got hooked, and totally changed my life around. Look into it.

-Vic

Gonja, mang! (3, Funny)

patrick42 (212568) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960875)

In a job like that, it would make things a lot less stressful and more fun if you smoked the occasional j-stick before work. I suggest doing right before your shower so that you don't smell. You'll have a nice grin on your face, and people's problems won't seem to bad.

I also agree with the person who posted about exercise. I started working out three times a week over a year ago, and now I go anywhere from three to five times a week. It definitely helps with stress, and has the added benefit of making you feel a lot better about yourself, too.

WTF!! (1)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961471)

if you smoked the occasional j-stick before work.

I also agree with the person who posted about exercise.

isn't that kinda contradictory?

Re:WTF!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961594)

no. idiot.

Re:Gonja, mang! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961772)

After work! Gives you something to look forward to all day long!

Put up a sign! (3, Interesting)

loubear (760016) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960891)

That way, you get to express yourself, and keep the advantage of indirection: "Not YOU, of course. Or maybe YOU, especially". Let the reader decide, and have a laugh, too.

When my stress level maxed out, I posted a price list for questions, akin to the mechanics' price list that starts out "If you fixed it first...", and "If you watch...". The highest price on my list was for "Why..." questions. These days, it might be on your web form users fill in to alert you to their particular brand of misery. Then, it was posted in my cubicle.

BOFH... (2, Funny)

Shag (3737) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960949)

Get thee to The Register, and read the BOFH stuff. ALL of it.

That'll give you a few ideas to get started.

Re:BOFH... (1)

EvilAlphonso (809413) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961065)

When I started working in IT, the BOFH seemed so hard on (l)users. Seven years later, I think he is rather nice to them...

i quit my job (1)

Dr.Opveter (806649) | more than 9 years ago | (#10960978)

Or actually, got a better job offer, but i had a simular job for about 2,5 years.

NO MY CAPS ISN'T O.., oh wait, yeah now i can log on..

I think there's a problem with the printer cause it just seems to make a weird noise and no paper comes out. I tried it 5 times already but now it also smells a bit funny

I don't know what happened, my computer just won't turn on this morning, it worked fine yesterday when i left the office.. really

I need you restore that super important file i just erased because i need it for a presentation with a client. Can you please hurry cause they'll be here in 30 minutes. Thanks

I know you can just stay calm and tell the user in a nice way he messed up and he can't depend on you being his saviour every time and forget about the poor user. But usually it just doesn't work like that, especially in a small company...

Maybe you should think where you want to be in a year, still in this job or maybe something else?

Repeat offenders (1)

sydbarrett74 (74307) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961043)

One thing I do is if I have a user who repeatedly does the same thing over and over, I will go to that person's manager and report it as a training issue. Usually getting bitched out by your manager is enough to make you get your shit together, but on the rare occasion I've unfortunately been directly responsible for having a particular troublesome user fired. C'est la vie....

BOFH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961056)

You can always be the BOFH and move the stress back to the users

True Story (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961157)

I worked for a university where my boss felt that "people worked best under pressure". So he constantly created situations to stress us out with. Like: Waiting until the day before a $500k proposal is due and force the staff to work all through the night (my record was a 17 hours at the office).

I hadnt worked there but for a little while -- and the same with the secretary (we were the only two staff members, everyone else were students, etc). Once a month perhaps, we would let our boss drive us nuts. Until a guy who worked there for quite a few years strolled by us happy as a bird and we said to him "how can you be so relaxed with this deadline?!" and he says, "Boss does this on purpose. I stopped caring years ago."

It had a big impact on us. After that we were incapable of becoming excited about *ANY* deadlines. Deadlines were missed, we didn't care.

The (sweat)lab was eventually defunded by all its benefactors. Nobody could produce research the way the lab was run. And the proposals were so terrible having literally been put together in a few hours, that no new sources of fuding were acquired.

THE LART! (2)

fuzzybunny (112938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961167)

Wield the LARG [catb.org] , clue bat, maulinator, whatever.

Seriously, at a very very stressful contract job I once had, I inherited a baseball bat (fine wood Louisville Slugger) from my predecessor (covering whose escape from there was the agreed-upon purpose of my presence there.) I named it "Molly", from the Neuromancer character Molly Millions.

The thing had come into existence years previously, during a horrible project that was totally overbudget and schedule, where a psycho manager had apparently walked around wielding the bat and a sword and screaming things like "I'm gonna break some fuckin' heads!" When he was called into a meeting, someone stole the bat and sword--nobody knows where the blade is now, but generations of network security guys husbanded the bat until I got it.

I brought it to meetings and to server rooms in emergencies, as kind of a safety blanket. We got really good at training our clientele (major international bank) to understand that we were there for them, we'd fix all their problems, but (a) they had to ask nicely, (b) they had to come to us with the issue, and (c) they'd have to trust us.

We always came through, which translated into a lot of credibility, but also meant that we had the best-stocked "thank you" bar in the whole company, but sitting in your office, listening to some flustered manager blubbering about a dead trading system while patting Molly (but always smiling!) was pretty funny.

It got to the point where it became an icon around the bank--people on the internal IRC channels picked up on it, so whenever someone made some horribly stupid security-related remark, there'd be a loaded pause before somebody would make a comment along the lines of "uh, xxx, I think Molly would like to speak with you"...

So as you see, it's all a question of user re-education, tovarich.

A pain I know only too well (1)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961192)

You say it's a small company and I don't know if you have a PFY or anything.

Often it pays to not be too nice or at least not as nice as the other guy people can go to for "help". People will subconsciously go to the person they feel most comfortable talking to for help. Make sure it isn't you.

Users are stupid. This is a sad fact of life; look on the bright side - if they weren't, some of us would be out of a job.

Make sure you log requests in some form of Helpdesk as evidence. The people who repeatedly ask the same questions over and over need to be tracked and recommendations for training should be made to their manager or relevant department. After all it's 'good for the company'. 'Training' is one of the biggest sticks we wield. Learn to use it well. You wan't people to fear being sent on training and to be motivated to spend time actually reading that dialogue box.

Users are lazy and will follow the easiest path. Don't be easy to get hold of. If it's easier to call you than engage one's brain and actually think then guess which one they are going to do? Work on making coming to you more work than resolving the problem themselves. Don't reset passwords too quickly. They will complain to their manager that they can't do any work and blame you. Point out the 50 or so times the person forgets their password a week and recommend training. Remember you are an easy target to blame for incompetent workers. Always put the responsibility back onto the user by giving them something to do before you can do your bit.

It's a stressful job. About the best way to deal with it is learn to not use logic or think rationally. Think of users as pets; for example, if a dog craps in the street you wouldn't spend time getting upset about it and worrying why it did it - it's a dog - it's what dogs do. You just have to accept it and get on with it - there is no higher thought process at work here. If it's a problem then you have to be prepared for it.

Above all, never, NEVER give out your cell phone number or fix a computer someone brings in from home.

Really does depend on the source (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961248)

There are two groups of repitious requests:
  • Users who never learn -- find out how to diplomatically suggest training.
  • Jobs that never go away -- Automate or simplify so that the job can be handed to someone else.
There's more than this, but these two groups account for most of my stress, such as it is. If there's a key individual that you simply can't get on with, try ignoring them. This rarely works, but give it a go. If they insist on making your life difficult (stress without reason, confrontation without cause, etc), you shouldn't have to put up with that crap, lodge a formal complaint.

"while trying to accommodate everyone" (1)

Spoing (152917) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961350)

That's why you're under stress. I've done it before, and at times do it intentionally, yet every time I'm punished for it.

How do I deal with it? Oh, let me count the ways...

Pre-emptive: After knocking out the obvious and preventable problems, I keep a list of issues as they come up. I then knock them out as well or...decide not to do them at all. In some cases, you can bargain with people on the solution. In any case, you shouldn't have to manually do the same thing twice unless it is a physical task (moving a system, changing toner). Backups should happen automatically, restoring systems should almost be done by command, new software should be pushed out, ... with your job being to monitor that everything is A-OK not that you had to hover over every minor stage.

Recruit the users: Keep in mind that many minor tasks can be demonstrated to your users and they can take care of them for you. After all, many don't want to call you for small issues and will feel better 'learning about computers'.

Trust: Specifically, make them feel like they can be in control at any time. Annoy them with your concern. Walk around, ask people what they think, listen, give them tons of feedback, let them know you have handled specific issues they raised, give them so much feedback that they will be disinterested in asking you a single question -- unless it is really important. Make it so that they do not have to struggle over having you do anything...and they will not ask as many questions. This works very well... if and only if you are pushy about it for a few weeks. Get them to say 'enough'.

On a similar tangent, here's something to think about. [itconversations.com] (People aren't simple chimps; we're very complex apes.)

How do you get paid? (1)

Parsec (1702) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961405)

How does your boss know how much you work? Is there a ticket tracking system for all these little requests? Who do you bill for the stupid user questions? Which department is the worst?

Being able to show how these little problems use up time that you could be spending doing important maintenance [microsoft.com] or security tasks [slashdot.org] may encourage management to help you out a little.

are you causing your own stress? (3, Insightful)

undef24 (159451) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961590)

Here is my outlook, let me know your thoughts...

If you're at work for X hours, does it really matter how you're spending your time? Just kill your ego a bit and don't worry about it. You are being paid for your time, so if people want to waste it, then complain to management the same as you would if they sit there reading a magazine all day instead of working.

If the problem is keeping track of your TODO list, then you just need to get organized. What would you do if you were a software developer and someone kept giving you new bug reports? You'd log them in a list sorted by priority. Can you do the same here?

If this "stress" is caused be being forced to work more than the original alloted hours, then that should be a different Ask Slashdot question: "What should I do when I get asked to work overtime when i'm not getting paid?"

Read ... (1)

Domini (103836) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961702)

BOFH [ntk.net]

But don't look at it as humour... ... rather see it as a quide.

Re:Read ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961791)

And, if you take it literally, get fired or arrested. Failing that, alienate your co-workers, ruin your career prospects, complicate your working relationships and increase your stress levels a thousand fold.

I'm sure the parent comment was meant in jest. The problem is that far too many in the IT field genuinely think that this is an ok attitude to adopt.

Re:Read ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961995)


And, if you take it literally, get fired or arrested. Failing that, alienate your co-workers, ruin your career prospects, complicate your working relationships and increase your stress levels a thousand fold.

I'm sure the parent comment was meant in jest. The problem is that far too many in the IT field genuinely think that this is an ok attitude to adopt.

It's called innovation.

Large Corporations need the little people to stay little. Fighting back (even illegally) is the road to success. If you are really good and they still fire you or have you arrested, then did they really need you?

It's like M$, they cheated and stole (and innovated) to get where they are now, trampling on loads of small cool companies. Yet they are (still) liked and trusted by the majority of people. Go figure.

Tough Love, Damnit!

Do you want the job? Quit or get better at it. (1)

smoon (16873) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961729)

Pehaps you don't properly understand the nature of your job.

Find a different job. If you find yourself treating your users like crap because you hate them for being idiots then you're in the wrong line of work. Get some skills and move on to something else, preferably at a different company so you don't have 5-6 hours a day of the same old support calls since users know to come to you.

If you want to keep the job, then be much more proactive. Seek out trouble users and _ask_them_ if they need help. After fixing something call later in the day or the next day and make sure it's still OK. The users will love you and you'll find they (generally) will respect you more. Over time you will go home at night feeling good that you helpd a bunch of people and they really appreciate you.

The negative, punish-the-users, techniques are counterproductive and will lead to simply more stress and eventually getting fired or (if you can't be fired for some bizarre union rule or whatever) everyone wishing you were gone which is just as bad.

Dealing with stress (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961775)

First of all, accept that stress may be an inevitable and expected part of your job. Most jobs, from graduate-entry level up to and including Chairman of the Board are inherantly stressful. If you don't want this or can't deal with it at all... go flip burgers.

Work-related stress is not unique to the IT field. Nor is the problem of having to deal with users you think of as stupid (although in other fields, they may be called customers, clients, stakeholders or some other term, rather than users). I've noticed a lot of IT workers exacerbate their own feelings of stress and anger by telling themselves (and everybody else who will listen) that they and their field are unique and have pressures that nobody else can understand. Not true.

Trying to have a little more respect for your co-workers is one of the first steps to managing stress. You may think your users are stupid. In the vast majority of office environments, this won't be the case. Your co-workers may not be IT experts. They may not even be able to use Microsoft Office without screwing up. This is probably not because they are stupid, it's more likely to be because they have no particular interest in computers and no real desire to learn beyond the basic level they think they need to do their job (which may be very different to what you believe is the basic level they need). They almost certainly have a lot of skills that you don't. You may think the people in HR are stupid because they forget their passwords and can't even use Excel for 5 minutes without wiping their hard-disks. If you let them see you feel like this, they will think that YOU are stupid, because you don't know how to develop your career effectively and work well in a corporate environment. If you respect your co-workers, this will show in your behaviour. If it shows in your behaviour, they will pick it up. If they pick it up, their own opinion of you will improve. You don't have to get along with everybody all the time - this isn't achievable other than through being a doormat, which isn't helpful - but if you can establish a degree of mutual professional respect, it will make your office life a thousand times easier. If you need money to hire an assistant, it's easier to get this if the HR and Finance people (who probably have accredited professional qualifications, just like you) you have to deal with see you as a professional rather than as an immature computer geek. If nothing else, it's less frustrating to have to back down in the face of a colleague's arguments than it is to be over-ridden by a pencil-pushing luser idiot.

Therefore, don't adopt a BOFH attitude. Simon Travaglia is a funny guy. Reading his stuff usually makes me chuckle and, yes, this can also relieve stress. But in real life, BOFHs get, at worst, sacked or arrested and, at best, frustrated, stuck in a career rut and stressed beyond belief.

Other than that, all I can offer is the usual stuff. Try to prevent work from encroaching on your recreational time. Don't see "working from home" as a solution. It isn't... it's an invitation for work to take over your home life, without any of the "fun" sides of working in an office. If you can't do something, don't promise it... management respects people who are open about what can and cannot be achieved more often than you might expect.

Above all, be splendid to each other.

Re:Dealing with stress (1)

TechieSidhe (621990) | more than 9 years ago | (#10962236)

Please mod parent up! That's one of the best bits of advice I've seen for dealing with end users. Although sometimes I've seen the most patient and polite person want to beat someone with a clue-by-four, it's really important we keep our cool. The users need to feel comfortable coming to us with issues, and if we give them an attitude every time they have a small problem, they'll be too afraid to come over, try to fix it themselves, and in some cases, make the problem much worse than it could have originally been. Plus, I've found that the users are much more amenable to change if you keep a good attitude about things. They don't see change as so much of a threat.

poor baby (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961889)

How do Slashdot readers cope with the stress induced by a highly demanding job and being stalked by users asking for the same thing over and over (i.e. password resets, login problems, how do you...)

Dude you need to rethink what "highly demanding" is.

Let it roll off (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961906)

The users won't change.
Not all problems can be 'solved'. This is one of them.

You need to accept you will get these same requests forever. I have managed to adapt myself to just calmy continue, and it doesn't bother me anymore, it isn't like I know everything, I barely remember what I've just been told.

If you can't handle this, work somewhere else, but many jobs are like this.

BUY XANAX ONLINE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10962027)

you do sift through the spam filter junk now and then, they aren't joking when they are offering a legit script for a benzo ;)

good to have around

hobbies? (2, Insightful)

BigBir3d (454486) | more than 9 years ago | (#10962103)

sounds like you need a better hobby outside of work. something completely and totally non-IT related. you gotta be able to leave work at work. it sounds like you are not de-stressing enough when you leave. has something changed recently? loss of sig other perhaps?
</dr phil>

go out and have some fun dude!

Mandatory 5 o'clock Quake. (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 9 years ago | (#10962136)

Okay, well, it started out as Doom, then Doom II, then Duke 3D, then Quake ... a little bit of Counter Strike... you get the idea.

5:00 to 5:30pm every workday.

The boss accepted it, as we explained that it was 'network testing'.

For some reason, my coworkers accused me of being Dogbert after replying to the suggestion box in a negative way, after working 'till 2am to get the annual report for our group done, and then answering the questions, while the others had gone off drinking:
We had to implement a strict rule that you didn't answer people's questions when you weren't working -- if you get stopped while you're at the grocery store by someone who recognized you, then you recommended that they call in, or drop by the office, and talk to someone who's currently working.

[and as for the stalking -- I've had an unlisted number for 6 years, because of a problem with a _coworker_ stalking me, after I helped her... she said that I just didn't understand -- how much do you need to understand when I said stop sending me stuff, and she didn't?]

Quit, you're burnt out (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 9 years ago | (#10962341)

People are just as much a part of the system you are administering as the software and hardware, and all three have "glitches" in them that you will have to deal with on a daily basis. Do everyone who depends on you a favor and take a break from reality for a while until you get your head screwed back on right, because frankly your attitude makes you useless to the users.

The cure for bad people (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#10962359)

is good people.

There's nothing better than a good laugh over a few beers with somebody who understands how crappy customers can treat you.

I don't mean a bunch of malcontents either -- that'll make things worse. You can't fight a bad attitude with a bad attitude.

Two words: (1)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 9 years ago | (#10962431)

Baseball ball.



(Directions: apply liberally until problem ceases.)

quit (1)

austad (22163) | more than 9 years ago | (#10962554)

Seriously. If your job causes you anguish instead of satisfaction, you need to leave. It's making your quality of life suffer. You only live once, it's not worth it. Trust me, I've dealt with the same thing.

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