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Ken Flake
Ken Flake

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Fear of asking questions? What mindset should you have?

Hi, I'm having problems about approaching my manager, or other colleagues in work that I don't know of (or haven't talked to yet).

Eventually there will come a time that I will have to come ask them of a subject matter they are specialized in.

But it seems that, whenever I do, I always have that mindset that I'm technically disturbing them whenever I ask questions, whether it's a noob question or a question that actually makes sense.

These questions may be technical in code or not, but of course mostly refers to questions in code and etc.

Because there are times that asking a question once doesn't work, they have many people to support to, and I'm just one of them, so sometimes you have to bug them, it depends..

One advice that I had from my colleague is that, if you don't remind of ask them constantly about your query, you're the one who will be delayed on your end at your task.

But that's quite a negative remark in my perspective.

For intermediate developers, and also senior managers, I would like to ask some advice on what beginner devs and new people in the office on what mindset should they have on approach when asking questions and assistance.. especially if you don't know who to approach to and such..

This is also a good discussion for us developers, mentors and managers alike.

Thank you so much!

Discussion (1)

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practicingdev profile image
Practicing Developer

Hi Ken,

First of all, supportive environments for beginners not only expect you to ask plenty of questions, but they expect that there will be a learning curve in your process of discovering how to ask good questions, and so there enough is goodwill and patience to enable learning as you go.

Of course, many decent work environments still don't quite fit that ideal, and a fair share fall quite short of it.

What I would recommend is simply to try to be organized about how you ask questions. Take good notes as you work, and then review them before reaching out to others with your questions. Provide some background on the "What and Why" behind your questions, and try to make it as easy to reply as possible.

(I.e. if there's code someone needs to look at, reference exact relevant sections. If there's something that would benefit from a screenshot or diagram, or a quick demo, go for it. Anything to build context!)

Discuss openly with your collaborators how they would prefer to handle responding to questions. Some may like to do that in real time, some may like to respond asynchronously when they find time. Some may be comfortable with giving feedback and replying to whatever questions you have whenever things happen to come up, others may prefer to set dedicate time for office hours or reviews. Every situation is different, and learning how to adapt to what works for others is worthwhile.

Finally, do you just feel like your questions might have been seen as a disturbance, or did others say or do specific things that made you worry about that? If you share a little more about that I may be able to offer some additional suggestions.

One thing is for sure though, it would be better for you to "Fail by asking too much, even in the wrong way" than to "Fail by not getting the support you need" so... keep at it even if it's scary/uncomfortable at first. It gets better in time!