What Is Your Mindset?

Image by Jacob Bøtter via Flickr

Image by Jacob Bøtter via Flickr

An exchange I had on twitter this morning with Gerald Combs (author of Wireshark) has me thinking about mindset. The exchange went like this:

@geraldcombs: FACT: If you don’t telnet to your web server and talk to it directly once in a while it will get lonely and wither.

@scottm32768: @geraldcombs s/telnet/ssh/

@geraldcombs: @scottm32768 s/ssh/telnet <webserver> 80/

@scottm32768: @geraldcombs Of course. Too much sysadmin, not enough protocol analyst in my thinking this morning.

According to thefreedictionary.com, mindset is “a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations.” I was approaching his comment from the wrong mindset, though given the context of who he is I should have realized what he meant. Is a web server a 1RU packet generator running a server OS, or is it the software service that handles requests to ports 80 and 443? Do you ever have this problem when dealing with your customers? In my case, my customers are usually other IT staff in my organization, but occasionally it’s non-IT staff. You need to change your mindset enough to understand where your customer is coming from. I have had highly unproductive conversations with people because our mindsets were so different, we couldn’t even successfully communicate. It would be nice if we could educate our customers to think like a network engineer, but that’s highly unrealistic. It’s our job to change the way we think enough that we can understand the customer’s goal well enough to play our part in helping achieve it.

The next time you’re talking to one of your customers (could be a family member, a coworker, or even someone who wants to pay you) and your conversation doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, you might ask yourself if you need to change your mindset.


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