The Serpent

// Cursing the Internet since 1998

Tech Support and the Kübler-Ross Model

I’ve often found that the five stages of grief apply equally well to engineers attempting to resolve a problem that quite simply has gotten the best of them. This is probably true for many professions, not just technical. If your business is fixing other peoples problems, give this a try the next time you have to deliver bad news. Two good examples are actually as opposite as they can get – a device failure, and a problem elsewhere, here we go through the typical process of advising someone that the problem might be caused by something else other then your kit\department\organisation etc.

Stage one: Denial

Despite overwhelming evidence that the device is not receiving any traffic, engineers still push for a resolution, ignoring the fact that this evidence generally speaks for itself, and that the problem is elsewhere.

Stage two: Anger

When denying the evidence, all you can do is gather more and maybe repeat it in a way they will eventually understand. This leads to anger, and threats that you’re not doing your job properly.

Stage three: Bargaining

My personal favourite, because despite the fact that the problem is clearly out of my jurisdiction (Call your ISP, maybe?) I’m still requested to “fix it anyway”, somehow… anyhow…

Stage four: Depression

Kind of sad considering we’re all usually just employed and none of actually own the stuff. It’s likely due to the realisation that the problem isn’t where you thought it was and you have to go back to the drawing board.

Stage five: Acceptance

Eventually we get to where we should have been long ago – the problem is elsewhere and more importantly, beyond my scope of support. It can honestly take days to reach this stage.