Promise me that whenever you’re scared to ask something, you’ll ask

Multiple times a day, I’ll have a question I don’t want to ask. Usually I’m scared it’ll make me look dumb. Or what if it derails the conversation? Or, oh gosh, it’s possible that someone already answered it earlier when I zoned out. Whatever the reason is.

Whenever I have that feeling, I must ask. That feeling is a trigger to ask.

I coach new members of the team on that too: “Promise me that whenever you’re scared to ask something, you’ll ask.”

Everyone’s afraid of looking bad or being annoying by asking questions. But the most efficient way to look bad or be annoying is by not asking enough questions. Any senior engineer can tell you how terrifying and frustrating it is to have someone new join the team and never ask any questions.

I’ll end with a quote from a blog post I found:

I don’t expect you to know everything, or to even have a plan about what sorts of things to learn. What I expect is that you will ask at least one hundred questions in your first month on the job. Maybe even in your first week or two. That’s right. One hundred. This is normal. I also expect you to take notes, because I bet that you will not be able to remember everything when you are learning so much at once.

Are you worried that you will annoy your new coworkers with so many questions? Believe it or not, the way to approach this concern is by asking more questions. Here are some examples:

– How do you prefer that I share my questions?
– Is there anyone else I should chat with about this or that thing?
– Do you want me to group my questions together or can I just message you as soon as they come up?
– Can we schedule a quick call each day to go through some of my questions?
– Is there anything you would like me to do differently when asking questions?
– Where should I search before bringing a question to you?

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