No developer starts out as an expert. The ability to ask for guidance rather than answers allows you to take ownership of advancing your career. It can be scary to ask for help, but we will provide suggestions for overcoming this fear. Using examples from our own careers, we outline what to do before you ask for help, how to phrase your questions and what to do after you receive help.
Benefits of asking for help
- Prevents time-waste and avoids “re-inventing the wheel”
- Provides opportunities to gain knowledge from others.
- Helps give new perspective to problems you are stuck on.
What to do before asking for help
- Try rubber ducking your problem out loud to no-one. See if you gain a new perspective.
- Timebox yourself to try new approaches, until you are not making any progress.
- Gain an understanding of where you are, where you need to be and what you have tried.
How to ask for help
- Ask for guidance not for an answer.
- Explain what you are trying to do and what you have already tried.
- Be willing to work towards a solution together, do not hand off your problems.
What to do after asking for help
- Say thank you!
- Provide public praise for those who helped you.
- Pay it forward and be a source of help for others.
Links from this Episode
- XKCD: Stacksort
- O’Reily Copy & Paste from Stack Overflow
- Rubber duck debugging
- Peer programming
- Mikes rubber duck
Other Episodes Mentioned
- Six ways you can be a more productive developer.
- To get more done as a developer you need a personal task management system.
- How to give and receive feedback
- Reflect on a previous time you asked for help and what the result was.
- Next time you receive guidance or help, pay if forward and help someone else with the same type of problem.
- Tweet us a picture of your rubber duck!