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When do you ask for help?

Can you do this programming assignment real quick?
And then it happens: you don’t know how to start or you get stuck. 
Do you continue to struggle or do you ask for help? 
That’s what this article is about.

A new assignment

creating software is my passion. 
i love learning new things: new techniques, new tools, new programming languages, new environments. 
and then the satisfaction of solving something and seeing it being used.

Internal Struggles of a Developer

But sometimes it doesn’t work out: 

  • The assignment is unclear. 
  • You don’t know the environment. 
  • It’s an unfamiliar way of working. 

So then: Google is your friend! or ask ChatGPT if it can help. But what if you don’t know what to ask?

Or if you get an answer that raises more questions than it answers. 

What do you do then?

Breaking the Silence

This happens to every developer at times and how do you solve it?
Do you keep on continuing on this path? By yourself?
While people expect you to have it solved within a reasonable time. 

Or do you ask someone else if they can take a look? Or if they have any ideas?
But then you might, unconsciously maybe, have the following thought: 

Will they think I’m dumb because I can’t solve it myself? 

Or if you’ve asked a question before, you might think they think: 

Oh no, there he is again! What doesn’t he know “this time”?

Those are thoughts I’ve had in the past, and then I would keep going by myself and take longer with the assignment than I expected.

The Power of Collaboration

While the opposite is often true:

Colleagues often like it when you ask them to help you with something.
Unconsciously, they feel honored because they know something you don’t know.
And usually, you then come to a solution together more quickly.
You also learn how other people look at an assignment and how they solve those problems.
Which in turn will possibly trigger you to look at your way of coding in a different way.

And an additional advantage is that you’re often faster to pick up something new again.
And that is a big benefit for the client.

Expressing Gratitude

One very important point lastly:
After a colleague has helped you, thank them.

Just say: Thanks for your help.

It’s a very small gesture, but your colleague will certainly appreciate it.
And will unconsciously be more inclined to help you again in the future.


If you get stuck in a programming puzzle, don’t (too) long keep trying to solve it alone, but ask your colleagues for help.
Then you won’t linger on the problem for too long, you have more contact with your colleagues, the work goes faster, and you also learn something from it.

About the author: Introducing Erik