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Overcoming Computer Anxiety?

I once heard someone say that a human's first meeting with a computer often resembles early, awkward sex. You're not sure what to do with your hands and you don't know how to ask for what you want. That comparison may seem a little extreme, but any new interaction brings with it a certain amount of anxiety, fear, and possibly even hostility. Getting to know a computer, no matter how 'user-friendly' it or its software may be, is no different from any other new encounter.

As computers become more popular, and computer literary increases, resistance to the technology is decreasing. But there are still plenty of people who haven't accepted this technology. There are reasons for this continuing resistance, not least the widespread belief that the computer never has a problem, so any problem must be the user's.

The introduction of new forms of technology often change jobs'the way they are done, the skills they require, and even people's relationships to them. It's sometimes easy for people to think the computer has taken over their jobs. People often perceive computers as being cerebral or abstract, making them feel inadequate compared to the apparent infallibility of the computer.

The task of overcoming this resistance may well fall to the trainer, and it can best be decreased (or augmented!) early in a training program. Whether trainees are learning to use computers, or just learning on computers-or whether they are in any other particularly anxiety-producing training situation'the following suggestions may help alleviate anxiety.

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