How would you professionally and effectively approach, without offending, a coworker (from another department - IT) who is supposed to help you, but is clearly unable to?

To name a use case, I am looking for specific approach (using well-established and frequently used software), in which the coworker does not seem to have enough experience. However, instead of helping me with that approach, or passing to someone else who can, I am suggested to try other approaches (such as using another not so convenient software), which would be time-consuming and ineffective for me.

Note that I am convinced the problem is easy to solve with the standard approach. All I look for, is a polite and effective way to be passed to another coworker who can help.

  • 4
    Your "use case" is not a use case, it's still vague. Can you edit your question and give one or two specific examples? Thanks.
    – user8036
    Apr 29 '15 at 7:41
  • 2
    Is this coworker also your team member and has some responsibility in the project? Or are these "unhelpful suggestions" merely suggestions? If you're not satisfied with coworker A's suggestions, I don't understand why you can't just move on to coworker B. "Say, have you worked with X? I'm looking for the best way to do..."
    – Brandin
    Apr 29 '15 at 7:55
  • The coworker is from another department, where I don't know anyone personally. So I don't know who X would be. The situation is not hypothetical. Why is it vague? Shall I mention the software to make it less vague? How would that change?
    – dmz
    Apr 29 '15 at 12:27
  • 2
    So you are using tool ABC to perform some given task DEF, and don't know how to do it. In realizing this, you ask coworker X how to perform task DEF using tool ABC. Coworker X does not know either, but (presumably) knows how to perform task DEF using tool GHJ. How is coworker X suggesting the use of tool GHJ instead of tool ABC more "time-consuming and ineffective" for you, assuming it gets the job done? The alternative being involving yet another coworker Y who might or might not know how to do DEF using ABC.
    – user
    Apr 29 '15 at 13:43
  • I am sorry for being vague but the simple answer given is actually helpful!
    – dmz
    Apr 29 '15 at 14:19

Sounds like the co-worker views what you are doing as an X-Y problem. Assuming that you are correct and they are not, the best way to avoid wasting everyone's time is to ask directly about method rather than goal. "Hey co-worker, who in the department has experience with tool X?"

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