The right posture to ask for help from others

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When should you turn to others for help? Is asking for help from others like reaching out to the party, and will you be despised by others? In the process of doing career coaching, I found that this is a common problem, and decided to write an article on it. Facebook’s Bootcamp has done a lot of awareness training for newcomers in this regard, which is very worthy of reference.

In Bootcamp, there is a special area for mentors to provide office hours. The goal is similar to office hours in schools (after-school question and answer). If the new bootcamper encounters problems during work, you can go to this area to ask questions. Of course newcomers will ask: So when should I ask questions? The standard answer is: if you’ve been fiddling around for an hour and you’re still getting nowhere, it’s time to ask questions.

Unlike school homework, the tasks assigned by Facebook to bootcamper are not exercises with known standard answers, but tasks that are not urgent or important in actual projects. Each task is different, and the mentor will not know in advance. questions, and there may not always be a correct answer. After a newcomer asks a question in the office hour, the mentor will ask, “So what methods have you tried?” If someone can’t say it, the mentor will say, “Go back and fiddle with yourself. If there is no progress for an hour, come back and ask questions. “.

After the newcomer explains what he has tried, if the mentor knows the answer, he may directly tell him the answer and send him the link to the relevant documents; if the mentor does not know the answer, he will do it himself and write half of the newcomer’s answer. Bring the code over to debug and try to solve the problem; if the mentor can’t solve it, but knows who might be able to help, he will introduce the new person.

As simple as that process, it highlights several awareness necessary to succeed at Facebook:

  1. Mentors must teach people how to fish, bootcampers must learn to fish, and they cannot reach out for fish. The reason why you are asked what you have tried but failed is because the mentor must tell you or demonstrate to you what works. You can’t say “I can’t catch fish, please give me a fish”, the correct way to ask is “I fish this way, I tried but I can’t catch any fish, please teach me the right way to fish “.
  2. Even when faced with a problem you have absolutely no understanding of and no experience with, doing it yourself is the best way to learn. Hands-on work doesn’t have to be writing code, hands-on work can also be searching and researching. There is an essential difference between this and the problems encountered in the school curriculum: the problems that can be encountered in the school curriculum have known answers, and the known answers belong to a clear and clear knowledge system. The unknown angle will help you explain everything clearly. For practical work problems, you can often only obtain fragmented relevant information, and then add your own fiddling to produce a usable result. You have to embrace “the truth is partly unknowable” and rush in.
  3. The people you have direct access to may not necessarily have the information you need, and you need to learn to find the right people to get the right information. This is also very different from the systematic knowledge and curriculum structure of the school. In school, you can assume that the person teaching the subject knows everything about the subject area, and you’re sure to get an answer when you ask questions during the office hour. The information that needs to be obtained at work may need to go through multiple nodes to obtain it. This person suggests that you ask that person, and that person suggests that you ask another person. Although you are not sure how many nodes you have to pass to get the information you need, you better have a method that can converge the distance between you and the target.

By cultivating these kinds of awareness, even if you don’t work at Facebook, you will be better able to turn to others when you need it. Even if you can’t do the latter two, you must at least do the first.

During career coaching, I sometimes encounter the client’s concern: Will it be a waste of their time to seek help from people so much more senior than me? Faced with this self-doubt, you have to adjust your mindset and think about your situation in a win-win perspective.

First, you need to make sure that the things you want to ask for help are really important. If it is a problem encountered at work, you must make sure that it is in the company’s interest to solve such problems. From the perspective of the company, such problems are indeed worth solving. At this time, whether you solve it or someone else solves it, this kind of problem must be solved, which has laid the foundation for a win-win situation.

Then, your attitude to ask for help must be “Please teach me to fish. I don’t want to always ask you for fish, so teaching me to fish is a win-win option that serves both parties’ interests.” For the company, it’s a triple-win option , the company solves a problem that is in the company’s interest, you learn skills that can be reused, and the people who help you don’t need to help you repeatedly in the future.

In the end, of course, you must carry out this practice to the end, and you can’t leave when you catch a fish while others teach you to fish. Although this fish meets your needs at this moment, it is very likely that you have not learned to fish solidly, and you will have to trouble others next time. You have shown that you want to learn, and you have to learn more than the person teaching you.

“The right posture to ask for help” should have a mirror topic “The right posture to help others”. This is a problem that novice mentors often encounter: I think it is very time-consuming to help my bootcamper, but I can’t do it without helping him. How to grasp this degree? I can write about this topic next time. This topic is useful not only for mentors, but also for mentorees, because knowing how mentors can help you more efficiently will allow you to use your mentor’s time more efficiently.

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