It’s a strange thing. Buy a washing machine and you’ll get a manual telling you what the dials and buttons do. The last microwave oven we bought had a pretty substantial tome informing us of the culinary wonders we could perform and how to achieve them. But buy a computer or tablet and you get…. nothing. Possibly the most complex consumer technology item you are likely to buy and you won’t be told how to use it.

For the tech-savvy this is not a huge problem but for a lot of regular people I meet in the course of my work it tends to cause a similar reaction. That reaction is normally along the lines of “I’m really stupid”. Perfectly sane people who may have achieved much in their lives consider themselves to be witless in the face of technology. Why is this?

Now it is true that some people catch on to techie things quicker than others and are able to understand the concepts involved quickly. But as far as I can see the biggest hurdle for everyone else to overcome is what they have come to expect of themselves. They don’t expect to understand so they don’t. A perfectly normal reaction, but one that I try to address when one of my clients make the ‘stupid’ statement.

Thing is, how can anyone expect to understand something if it’s not explained to them in terms they can relate to, or not explained to them at all? That’s not people being stupid, it’s a failure in the retail process. So if I’m setting up an iPad, or as has happened a lot recently, a new Windows 8.1 laptop, I try to explain some of the core skills people need going forward.

There’s not always time to explain all that people need to know during setting up a gadget and as people use their gizmo they come up with new questions, so I often pay return visits to teach them further as they progress. There are certainly places where you can go for group instruction and that can often be helpful and YouTube has a lot of excellent instructional video once you sort through the other stuff. However although there is more cost involved, a one to one teaching session is always the best option. After all, you may find out you’re not stupid after all.