Track Talk

Asking for Help: How to ask the right questions

Veerle Verhagen

11:15-11:45 Wednesday 29th September

Asking for help should be about empowerment. So why does it often feel so diminishing? Since  I became a tester, I have struggled with this. In the words of Atul Gawande: ‘A professional is someone who is capable of managing their own improvement’. This is my story about becoming a professional. I learned to manage my own improvement. But it was a bumpy road.

A couple of years ago I was completely stuck on an assignment. I used to think I had to be the expert in my field and that asking for help was a sign of inexperience and mediocrity. When I started reflecting upon this assignment I learned a lot about reaching out and asking for help. In the end I found my most important stumbling blocks:

  • I was asking the wrong questions.
  • I was phrasing them badly.
  • I was asking the wrong people, and when they couldn’t help me I was too embarrassed to keep trying.

I took these lessons to heart and used them to improve as a professional question asker. This set me up for success on subsequent assignments. I am now on a mission to teach how to ask for help in a way that empowers you as a professional. In this talk I will give specific pointers on how to ask, what to say, whom to talk to and I will even go as far as telling you how to phrase your questions.