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Cover image for 😎 Don't be afraid to say, "I don't understand this task"
Vic Shóstak
Vic Shóstak

Posted on • Updated on

😎 Don't be afraid to say, "I don't understand this task"


Hello, DEV friends! 👋 Let's discuss a very important brain bug that all (almost) programmers have, when they start working for a company with real projects.

They're ashamed and afraid to say, "I do not understand this task".

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What does it look like?

Exploitation of this bug is very simple: just say in a confident tone any nonsense, and then ask "Well, do you understand?".

For example, your project manager says, "So, let's add a condition here, put a button there and everything starts working. Got it?".

Most of the inexperienced programmers I've ever seen, answer "yes" without thinking, even though they really have no idea what kind of button they're talking about, or what exactly "everything" entails. 🤷

When I did that myself, I was ashamed to admit it. I thought that as soon as I said that I did not understand something, I would immediately sign my incompetence, inability to listen and general unprofessional.

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Fix this brain bug

For myself, I cured this bug because I realized: it's much worse to waste time on an unclear task and do it wrong, or to come to a project manager with silly questions when you're already expected to produce results... than to ask all exciting questions about the task from the beginning! 😉

Look at yourself. Maybe you, too, have a bad habit of not admitting you don't understand something, huh?

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Top comments (7)

skylerdevops profile image

Definitely! Something that helps me a lot as well is, after a chat or meeting, recapitulating what are the steps wanted. Sometimes we understand different things, and this has saved me quite a few hours of my time

rarrrleslie profile image
Leslie Rodriguez • Edited

If you have an idea on how to get a task done try asking "Can I get a little more direction on this task?" Then when your mentor/senior dev reponds or jumps on the call you can tell them your idea of getting it done and get either approval or corrections. I do that all the time! I'll be like: "ya I understand" and then later be like "oh wait I need more info" haha. It's really no big deal. No company wants you to NOT ask questions. Just have a better question than "I don't understand".

koddr profile image
Vic Shóstak

This is just a message and a brief instruction for beginners (and, as it turned out later, not only) who are too afraid to say these simple words in their infancy.

Yes, you can paraphrase it however you like ;)

The main point of my entire article is to stop being afraid to ask questions if the task is not 101% clear. Since it doesn't help you or your team.

rarrrleslie profile image
Leslie Rodriguez

Agreed! I definitely love you article and writing style. Short, sweet, and to the point. 👏

Thread Thread
koddr profile image
Vic Shóstak

Thank you so much for those words! 🥰 It means a lot to me.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (double agent)

Not only beginners, I have 10 years of experience and struggle with this as well!

codemattermedia profile image

This is the easiest mistake to make! You'd be surprised to find that people don't mind being asked clarifying questions. It shows that you care about your work.

When in doubt, get it in writing!