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4 Phrases You Can Use to Encourage Collaboration

As a web developer or any programmer, it’s easy to get stuck in your head. At times, it may even be humiliating to admit you’re unsure of something. Over the years, I’ve noticed that our web dev team here at Hanley Wood uses some variation of these phrases to foster collaboration. The result is that we’re compelled to ask for clarity and advice, thus resulting in new ideas, trust, and a gentle reminder that we as individuals don’t have all the answers, no matter how experienced we may think we are. How many times have you completed a task or project, only to learn later that your peer could’ve advised a better way?

The phrases outlined below can benefit the most novice to the most experienced developer. We’re continually learning new technologies, and as a result, should foster our ability to learn from one another.

Maybe you’re already using these phrases. If so, great job! If not, consider if they’ll be helpful to you as perform your everyday tasks.

“I’m Stuck.”

Getting stuck happens. Raise your hand and let your team members know what’s up. An extra set of eyes could expose a stupid syntax error that you missed, or give you new ideas you hadn’t thought of on your own. Delaying this could result in wasted time. Set yourself a maximum amount of time you should spend trying to solve a problem, and don’t be ashamed to ask for help when you exceed that time.

How many times have you completed a task or project, only to learn later that your peer could’ve advised a better way?

“I Need a Second Opinion.”

Getting a second opinion is another way to put an extra set of eyes on your work, but I encourage using this phrase even when you’re not stuck. Allow yourself to receive advice from both your senior and junior peers because our varying levels of experience allows us to learn from one another.

“What Problem is This Trying to Solve?”

I find it difficult to put my heart into a project if I don’t fully understand it. Asking “Why are we doing this?” can come off as abrasive, but using the phrase “What problem is this trying to solve?” expresses your interest in the end goal. Often, the answer to this question results in one of two things:

  • Better comprehension in completing the task at hand
  • The opportunity to offer suggestions

At times, it may seem as if our stakeholders are asking us to complete tasks that seemingly don’t make sense. Rather than assume the worst, use this phrase to start a conversation that would give you more clarity.

“I Messed Up.”

Mistakes happen. Anyone who acts as if they’ve never made a mistake probably shouldn’t be trusted. Take responsibility by admitting your mistakes without finger-pointing. Recognizing and acknowledging mistakes demonstrates integrity and instills the trust in your peers that you’re least likely to make the same mistakes again.


I encourage the use of these phrases because they’ve helped us to establish a team built on collaboration and trust. We’re all flawed in some way, yet we can all work to be more collaborative to bring out the best in all of us. Recognize your team members are all skilled in different ways and nurture your ability to learn from one another, regardless of years of experience.

What do you think? Do you have any phrases or advice to add? Comment below.

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