security awareness communication

Communication Across the Ranges – End Users

I’ve been accused, occasionally, of not caring about my fellow humans, or even wanting to deal with them. So, in recognition of my failings, I’ve put together a quick three-part series on how to communicate with the three various types of folks that we have to deal with as technical consultants/geeks-in-residence etc. Hopefully it’s useful to some, annoying to others, and downright “that’s me!” to a select few.

Kicking me into doing this is completely and fully credited to Catherine Ullman from the University of Buffalo!

Part 1 – END USERS

Not just what to do, but WHY: Communication with end users should involve

  1. The aspects they can use at their role/job.
  2. Elements they can use in their everyday life
  3. A logic that runs both what to do and also why to do it.

Rather than a ”Because I said so” edict, a better approach might be, “Hey, we ask you to change passwords because…” and, “Hey, we’d also encourage you to adopt the same behavior at home…online accounts, and your social passwords too, because__(what might happen if you don’t)__.” Approaching things that way—as an educational approach, and posing it as a benefit to the end user, is always likely to elicit a more effective set of responses, and things tend to sink in.

Perception is Reality: Your understanding that perception is reality for many users is a key part of effective communication. Just because the perception doesn’t always level set with reality isn’t something we can always rationalize to end-users. Sometimes the simple act of listening is enough to let people know they’ve been heard. Engagement is key.

Communication is more than just verbal:Constant communication is key. Keeping the end user informed and up to speed on what is going on and why is critical. Good concise communication in written AND in electronic format is key.

Too much information?: If the end user’s eyes begin to glaze over, you’ve lost. Be judicious with the quantity and type of information.

Patience is a virtue: Even if you have to go into the closet afterwards and tear your hair out, be patient while working with end users.

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