How do you ask for help?

It can feel pretty daunting to ask for help. The worry of what other people will think, how to phrase the question, is it a silly question or should you even ask.

How do you ask for help? What advice would you offer for others who are worried about asking for help?

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You’re right it can be really daunting to ask for help, i’ve found one way to ask for help is more to start a conversation with the person you want to ask and discuss around the problem without actually asking for help, usually a conversation will ensue and you will get the help you need without having to ask for it.

The other way is to make it a collaboration opportunity, set up a whiteboard session (depending what it is) with a few helpful people and see if you can solve the problem together.

Finding peers you can trust to ask for help is also useful, and if you don’t have anyone in your company, then reach out to the community. It was part of the reason I joined the Testing Peers as they were all able to assist with things we were each struggling with and still help now…

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I used to find it hard to ask for help earlier in my carrer, I am getting better.

A few things I have found can help when asking questions:

  • Ask early, especially in a work context. People are happy to help and don’t want to see time wasted because you didn’t ask. So don’t delay!
  • Take some time to think thorugh the problem enough to ask as specific a question that is easier to answer.
  • If possible construct the question as a proposal. So “does it make sense of I do XYZ?” instead of “how do I do XYZ?”, showing how far you got solving the problem yourself will give people context to help get to the answer quicker.
  • Note down answers you get, so you can avoid asking the same question multiple times. I still need to do this more often, I’m not a great note taker.
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What I learnt from Janet’s requirements workshop: have courage, stand up tall and proud! Try and create that team culture of everyone asking questions!

I suppose this is more about asking questions, but I think the same applies for asking for help!

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I’ve found asking for help has become easier the more experienced and the more comfortable in my own skin I get. (Before part of me thought it was a sign of weakness, but now I think it’s a sign of strength and self-awareness to ask for help when you need it)

When I ask for help with practical things, I tend to mention what I have already tried already.

I also try to do a follow up and say thanks for the help and how what they did has helped me achieve the goal etc

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Last year I needed some help from testers. So I used this blog post of Alan Richardson.

I used a small intro and a specific request. I got a lot of feedback. After a while I gave feedback how things were going. Also this time I got nice reactions.

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