Dealing with Difficult Users Page 6

Deb Shinder

Dora Discourteous

Dora, like all the other problem user types, actually comes in both genders. Her (or his) distinguishing characteristic is blatant and sometimes almost unbelievable lack of consideration for everyone else. Although she can definitely be demanding, she differs from Demetrius in that most often, she's not angry - she just completely fails to comprehend why her selfish behavior isn't acceptable.

Dora doesn't understand that participating on a network (or simply using company computer equipment) involves activities that impact others, and that others have needs that may conflict with her own. Dora may be a disk hog, who feels it's her prerogative to use up 19GB of the 20GB of disk space allocated on the server for the entire department's user data. She may be a Distraction Master, who sees nothing wrong with setting the volume on her system to high and playing loud "training session" .avi files that boom throughout the office and prevent those near her from getting any work done. She may be a Bandwidth Backbreaker, who clogs the network by sending enormous, unzipped files or downloading half the Internet during the busiest time of the day.

Dealing with Dora requires a bit of psychology on your part. Appealing to her humanitarian side doesn't work because she doesn't have one. She's like a spoiled child who's used to getting (or taking) whatever she wants, and she is genuinely bewildered that her activities would cause a problem. After all, she's just trying to do a better job and be more productive in her work, and she will assure you that she needs the disk space, high volume or network bandwidth.

Logic and reasoning don't work with Dora. Even if she promises to be more considerate and restrict her activities, that promise won't be kept for long. She's simply incapable of considering others' needs, and she'll be this way in all her dealings with her co-workers, not just those related to IT.

The best solution if you have a Dora on the network is to implement administrative controls that will prevent her from hogging the disk space or bandwidth or disrupting her co-workers. Impose disk quotas, restrict her Internet access, even take drastic measures such as removing her sound card or moving her to an isolated area. Of course, some of these responses may require the approval of those higher up in the organization. The key is to make them understand that while Dora may indeed be a competent, productive employee, she is having a negative affect on the productivity of others, and since she can't control herself, it's imperative that someone else take steps to curb her disruptive activities.

At least Dora probably won't blame you for her problems (since she doesn't even know she has a problem). Unlike our next, and last unruly user, Fred Fingerpointer.

This article was originally published on Sep 18, 2000

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