My Story of Learning to Ask for Help

Presented by Veerle Verhagen at IT Matters Conference ONLINE

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These transcripts were generated by a machine and checked-over by a human for accuracy. Still, there may be small errors. If you spot any, please feel free to submit a pull request with amendments.

So thanks everyone for joining in. I'll quickly introduce myself. Like Crystal said, my name is Veerle Verhagen, I'm a software tester from the Netherlands, I work for a small company called 'Risk It', everybody calls it 'Risk IT', that's totally okay. We call it risk it. Um, and I've got a pretty cool story to tell, I think. So here we've got five hacks to help you get the support you need. Number one will blow your mind. And I'm sure you've noticed, this is a little bit of a click bait kind of title, which I totally did on purpose. I'm just trying to lure you guys in with a cool story. And so you will find out soon enough that I've only got four hacks for you to help you get the support you need. The first one is a different kind of hack and it will blow your mind. And you know why? Because it really happened. So this is something that really happened. On the left. We've got a screenshot of the BBC News from last year 20th July, so just over a year ago. And it says 'Met Police hacked with bizarre tweets and emails posted'. Now, I hear you ask ,especially if you're not from the UK, I hear you ask. So who is the Met Police. Well, this is the law enforcement responsible for the Greater London area. So they're also known as the New Scotland or Scotland Yard or the New Scotland Yard. It's nothing to do with the Scotland actually confusingly because the rest of the story is but they're named after the address where the main entrance to the headquarters used to be I think they moved out but anyway, that's that's how they know how they're known. So if you read a lot of Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes, that's maybe how you know them. So yeah, the Metropolitan Police got their Twitter account hacked. Isn't that ironic law enforcement falls victim to a crime? Um, so let's have a look at what happened. Basically, we got all these kind of what they said: bizarre tweets, offensive tweets, so let's have a look at some of these tweets. What was in them? Um, we've got "Free Digga D on Foenum Gang". Okay, Digga D is a rapper. Could it be he was jailed at the time as well. So maybe someone protesting his imprisonment? We've got "f the police free the gang" Could it be gang members or something? And then on the right, you've got a couple of tweets that seemed to have been signed off by GCV, XE3. So Who are they? On the left? We've got "Zeon is the best fighter". Okay, who Zeon? And it looks weird, doesn't it? Like how are these tweets? all connected? We've got the gang, we've got a rapper, we've got Zeon. So what is what is the link? Or what if it's all just random? Who knows? So imagine that you are a officer at the London met. You're maybe in your 50s? You have no idea what is going on? like where are you even going to start like your Twitter account got hacked? This is really serious, isn't it? Like this might be Russian cyber criminals. This might be a troll factory. You don't know. So your getting pretty scared maybe? Well, thankfully, there was a cybersecurity expert from Glasgow and he had some thoughts. I'm not meant to say cybersecurity. I learned you're meant to say Information Security now, because it's more accurate. But so this is Scott McGrady and he is a information security expert from Glasgow. And here's the reason that I know about this story. He's a friend of mine from when I used to live there. And he does a lot of really great work. So he does scam prevention. He goes on on Scottish radio and television a lot to tell the good people of the UK how to be safe online. And he also does work with police sometimes. So it was one of his connections through that, that told him about this. And he was looking at the streets and he said, You know what, I think I've got a pretty good idea of what is going on. So let's have a look. I'm trying to actually Sorry, I need to quickly have a bit because I put in a lot of slides that have like an emissions in and I'm not sure that it's gonna work. I don't think it will. So the next few slides might be a little bit confusing. Sorry about that. Either way, what evidence does Scott see? Well, he saw "Zeon is the best fighter in Scotland". Okay, so Scotland. It could be Scotland. Right. And if you're if you're from London, maybe you're not really that's not the kind of thing you're paying attention to because you're not primed. But Scott was definitely primed. He saw Scotland. He's like, hey, that's my region. And then the other tweets that we saw, he was looking at them. And he thought, okay, so people are signing them off. So who are GCP? XE3? Who are they? And then at the bottom tweet, you can see it says, "We are the police". And then the signature says, "cow and Dylan are gay, by the way." Right? What kind of Russian cybercriminal says that, like, who do you know, in your life that would call a person gay? Like 100% chance is going to be a teenage boy. So Scott sat thinking to himself, like, you know, I think these people may be from Scotland, and I think they might be teenage boys. But then the most convincing bit of evidence that I saw, it was an in-joke. Because it said into the tweets, first one said, "What are you gonna do, phone the polic?"" and then the next one says, "We are the Police". And this is from a Scottish TV show. This is a catchphrase. So this was a show called 'Limmys Show'. And it was broadcast on BBC Scotland. And it was immensely popular in Scotland, especially in the Glasgow area. This is Brian Limond, the creator and he was from Glasgow as well. So it was a very well known show at the time. And one of the sketches in this show is about two police officers on their first day of the job, just going wild, just pranking people, putting people in handcuffs for a joke. And so at some point, a person tells them like you can't do that you can't abuse your power like that. You can't just go arrest people for a joke. And their responses, "What you're going to do about it? Phone the polis? Mate, we are the polis" because that's how Scottish people call the police, they call it the Polis. So this was to Scott this was very clearly an in joke. But if you don't know the show, because you're from London, then you've never seen it, then you're gonna miss it right? You're not going to see this. So Scott was able to help out in a way that nobody in London was. And now this next slide is gonna fall flat because I can't do the animations. Sorry about this, but I'll just tell you the story. Anyway, what Scott ended up doing was googling some of the names that I saw in the tweets being signed off. So we had Zeon, who said Zeon is the best fighter in Scotland. And then one of the other tweets was signed off as XE3, and he thought looks a little bit similar. Could it be the same person? He ended up googling GCV. And what he found was different counts on different social media platforms. For instance, we've got this one tweet here on the left, and it says "no way has Zeon done this can't catch j man." All right. So Zeons real name is J, is it, good to know, thanks very much. So going through all of these different social media platforms, Scott was able to find out basically, who was friends with whom, what these people were called online where they hung out. And in the end, he ended up joining a twitch TV stream. I don't know if you know if everybody knows Twitch, but it's basically a platform where you can stream gaming online. And you can also sit in what they called the lobby, and you can just chat and hang with friends there. And so he ended up joining one of these streams, joining one of these lobbies and overheard the people who had actually done this, talking about the hack, and he was able to record lots of evidence. And this is how the magic happens because arrests were made. And what I love about this story, is that it was all about teamwork. neither party could have done it without the other. Because Scott, he had the tech savviness. He knows about Scottish pop culture. He understands where teenagers hang out online, and have the understanding of Scottish slang and accents because even if one of the London officers had been able to join the twitch stream, they may not have been able to record any evidence because it is unintelligible to them. And Scott also had to do quite a bit of explaining about what is 'Twitch'? What is 'Discord', he had to explain all these things because like I said, the officers at the Met were well, I don't want to say they're old, but they were well into an age where they were not really interested in social media. But Scott's on the other hand, couldn't have done it alone because he didn't have the case. Like it was one of his connections that told him about it. And he didn't have the authority to make arrests so he could have gathered all the evidence They wanted but without passing it on to law enforcement, nobody else could have done anything about it. And then the last thing was that this was actually quite a difficult case to crack. Because it was the London met that was hacked, but the boys were in Scotland. And those are different jurisdictions. So that was quite tough. And then the server was based in Switzerland. So that was really tough. And they needed all of these international connections to be able to make the arrests in the end. So I love this story. Scott told me about it. And I was completely in awe, because it was so cool. And there's actually a lot more to it than I can tell, you know, like, Scott did a full presentation just on this, and it was fascinating.

Um, but why am I telling you this? What ,Why is it relevant? What has it got to do with me? Well, I was in a similar situation last year. Unfortunately, not to that Scott, I wasn't the hero stepping in to help everybody. No, I was in the situation of the Met, I was completely stuck on my own assignment on my own quest. And I think there's some really interesting parallels between me and the Met. So let's have a look at that. I'm, at the time, I was on a new assignment. And it was going extremely badly. So the team that I was thrown into, as it were, was under an immense amount of stress. I was really overwhelmed by the tech. And I didn't really feel like I was contributing at all. And also, I didn't really feel accepted by my team on a personal level. And this was maybe partly the company culture as well. But for instance, I was there as an external consultant. And people kept joking about that and saying like," Oh, yeah, but you're not a real colleague, because you're external". And it's, you know, it's sort of half funny when somebody says that once, but if you have to hear it every other day, like, you know, the fun kind of goes out of it. I wasn't accepted. Like, I wasn't invited for the social. So it was all it was, I felt like an outsider. And then, I wasn't asking for help. I asked for help sometimes, but not enough. And why was that? Well, there was a few different reasons for that. Um, partly because I was ashamed that I needed to ask for help. And, you know, I've heard this in a few of the talks today. And I think this is a really common thing that we all suffer from, like, it seems like it's embarrassing to ask for help. And then I also wasn't asking the right people. I was asking some people, but they couldn't help me. So Why wasn't I reaching out to the people that could. And the last thing is that I wasn't looking in the right direction for what my problem was. And if you don't understand what your problem is, then how can you ask for help solving it. So these were some of the issues that I was facing. Let's have a look at the first

About being ashamed. And, again, this is where the animations kind of fall flat. So sorry about that. Um, but it's, it's really hard to admit that you're not doing your job properly. So on the left, little bit below the final image that was meant to fly and whatever, um, you've got Katie Hopkins tweeting about the Met. Does anybody know Katie Hopkins, she was banned from Twitter for being too mean, basically, for violating guidelines too often. So Katie Hopkins picked up on this on this hack, and immediately tweeted about it and immediately shamed the Met. And then Donald Trump, of course, has got this ongoing feud with the Mayor of London. And he immediately took this as ammo to point at the Mayor of London. And so it went International, which was really unlucky. And this is pretty much what I was afraid would happen to me. If I reached out for help. I didn't want to ask my team too much. So I would ask them sometimes, and say, Hey, I'm stuck with this. Could you help me but quite often, the answer would be, I don't have time for that just now. And I would be like, Okay, nevermind, then. I'll just Google it, I guess. I felt that it was embarrassing, because they called me in as an external consultant. So I had to be the expert and hero was constantly asking for help. Oh, gosh, what a rubbish tester. And then you might think, why didn't you reach out to other testers to your colleagues of your own employer or to to the testing community? Well, because imposter syndrome is real. And it is a badge. And I figured, you know, What if I tell everybody that this assignment is doing my head in and I can't do it? People are gonna say like, "yeah, of course, because you don't belong in it. You don't belong here. What like go back to linguistics? What are you even doing here? And so I was really reluctant to do that.

So the second problem that I mentioned I had was that I wasn't asking the right people.Right?I was asking my employer, the one that you see in the picture, this is Francis, he's the 'Risk IT' big Kahuna. And we're pretty friendly. And I trust him. And he's a person that I like, and that I admire. And he's got a lot of experience in testing. So you know, I always thought, you know what, whenever I've got a problem, I'm gonna ask him, and he wants me to succeed. He put me on this assignment, you know, he had other people available for it, but he told me like, you're a good fit. So you go for it. So you know, thought he wants me to succeed, he'll help me. But he didn't know this team. And he didn't know this product. So how was he going to help me with it? And, you know, he wasn't even the best choice because there was other people that wanted me to succeed, like maybe our client who was paying for me. But I didn't think of that. A

And then the last problem that I mentioned was that I didn't realise what my problem was, I wasn't looking in the right direction. Just like the Met, when they saw that their Twitter account had been hacked, they went looking for serious cyber criminals, because you know, that must be some kind of international act of terrorism, right? What they were not looking for was Scottish teenagers. Fun fact, this is a picture from another Scottish comedy show, this is from 'Chewing the Fat'. And the boys have used these pictures as avatars in some of their social media accounts. So that confirmed to Scott to the idea that these are definitely Scottish people. Um, but yeah, so back to the Met, this is what they were not looking for. And they were looking for the thing on the left, they were looking for like a proper hacker. And if you're not looking in the right direction, for your problem, then you're not going to be looking in the right direction for the solution. So here's what I thought my problem was. I thought my team hates me, you know, they're not inviting me along to socials, they barely even say good morning, when I come in. I'm clearly just really dumb. I'm a rubbish tester. I just don't get this assignment, they should have got someone who's more technical. And I'm in this alone. And there's nobody who can help me with this. That's what I thought my problem was.

But what my problem really was, is that everybody on this team is perfectly miserable. You have no idea, you don't understand how stress and how overworked everybody is. And I think if you saw Sanne's talk, then this will be familiar. You don't realise that this project hasn'tbeen going very well at all, even before you showed up. And you're taking every single thing personally. So if your colleagues don't say, Good morning, you think it's because they hate you. And if they don't want to help you, you think it's because they hate you. And I'm not saying that this is a strange assumption to make. And I'm not saying that I could have definitely done it differently. But it's not what my problem was. And it was such a shame that I didn't realise that. So what did I learn? Of course, I learned something because I wouldn't be telling you this, if I had'nt, id just be sitting in a corner sobbing. So what did I learn, whom you ask is actually incredibly important. And it's very important to identify the right person to ask to help you. The other thing is that people like to be asked, so once you get out of that shell, and once you do approach them, you find that they are happy that you do that. The other thing is that there is no shame in asking and I said that shame was a big barrier to me. And I didn't want to ask people because I felt it was embarrassing. Well, it's not. And then the last thing is that it really does matter how you phrase it, and it matters how you ask for help. So let's have a look at all of these points more in detail. Right, whom you ask is important. I said that I was asking my employer and I was maybe asking like some some friends that I trusted. I occasionally asked the team but they were usually too busy and too stressed to help me. But there was actually one person who was perfect to help me and he even offered. This was a sort of a manager not quite a manager but a manager type. At the client site, and he would occasionally invite me for maybe a little coffee a little half hour chats to ask me like, Hey, how's it going? How are you doing on the assignment. But he was my client. And so I felt, you know, I got this assignment, you're the one that I have to make happy, you're the person to please. So I didn't want to tell him, I'm doing rubbish. I hate this assignment, I can't do it, I feel miserable. I always told him, you know, it's not going very well. But here's what I plan to do to make it better. This is what I'm going to do to improve. Because I felt that especially to him, I had to put on a brave face. But he was the one person with a vested interest in me succeeding, so I should have told him, now I need you to back me up because the team is not having any of it. He knew the team, he knew the product a little bit, he knew the situation. And he wanted me to succeed. But I was too scared to ask him help me. And that was such a missed opportunity. That was such a shame. So what I learned here is that the person who was right for you to ask may not be a person that you feel comfortable asking, and you have to be brave, it might be your client, like in my case, it might be somebody more junior than you and you feel that you have to know better, you don't feel like you should be taken, you should be learning something from them, because you should be more advanced in your knowledge. Or it could be somebody immensely more senior than you. So maybe like a well known expert in the field, somebody out of reach. And I learned this throughout the year that even even those people that you see is like the grants of you know, your, your community. Awesome, happy to help you. So if you're courageous, you can ask anybody for help. And if you're not convinced, ask yourself this. Do I prefer definitely being stuck over possibly being embarrassed, you know, being stuck, that is a rubbish place to be, and you're going to be stuck there. Being embarrassed, lasts a couple of days at most. And usually you won't even be embarrassed. Because, like I said, there is no shame in asking for help. Another thing that I learned is that people like being asked, and you probably do, too. The reason that I chose this image in the slide is has an elderly person ever asked you to help them cross the road. Because if they have, then you know what an amazing feeling is, I'm having twice in my life once it was an elderly lady. And once it was an elderly gentleman. And both times, I just remember feeling so useful and so appreciated. And even if this particular thing hasn't happened to you think back to some other situation where you were able to help someone like maybe a lost child and you help them find their parent, or maybe somebody struggling with something and you were there and you could help them. How useful did you feel? How appreciated did you feel? Remember when COVID-19 just started. And there was all these initiatives on Twitter, of people saying, Hey, if you're stuck at home, if you can't leave the house and you need groceries, hit me up, I will get them for you. Do you remember that? Everybody wanted to be part of the community, everybody wanted to help people around them. That is how much human beings love helping someone we love this, we love helping, it makes us feel happy. It makes us few useful, it makes us feel like we're part of a community. And those are some of the best feelings that you can have. So when you're asking a person to help you, you're seriously doing them a favour if anything. So do it. Just ask them they'll love it.

Another thing I mentioned, there is no shame in asking. Because there is no shame in not knowing everything. For me, this one is really tough, especially at work. Because I don't have a background in it. I'm relatively new to it. And so for me, it can be really hard to figure out what is considered to be common knowledge and what are things that I should really know. And really quite niche information that only a few people know so even at work if I'm if I'm trying to figure out something, you know, for testing purposes, like it can be really scary. Because I'm always afraid that I will out myself as somebody who doesn't really know their stuff. But actually, there is no universally accepted canon of common knowledge. And this is really important. It's very tempting and easy to think that the knowledge that is basic to us, is basic to everyone. But it's not everyone's common knowledge, everyone's basic info is unique to their experiences, environment, childhood, education, everything. And I think this is where imposter syndrome really kicks in as well. And I find this illustration on the left here really useful. You've got your knowledge, and then you've got all the things that you don't know, but that other people seem to know. And all of that knowledge combined seems to be so much information that you don't even think you'll ever get to that level. So it seems like you know, very little, and everybody else knows a lot. But if you look at the right part of that image, the reality part, you know, what, you know, it's pretty much the same as what everybody else knows, in quantity. It's just different and content, you don't know less, you know, different things. And this is this is tricky. And it's difficult to get out of this culture of embarrassment about not knowing things. So one of the ways that I think we can all stimulate getting out of this culture is by not being surprised when somebody says that they don't know something. Because it's, it's, it's an easy reaction when somebody says, like, Oh, you know, I never read a book that you love, and that you've read a million times, it's really easy to be like, really, Oh, my God. But then again, that reaction also reinforces the thoughts that this is part of a universally accepted common knowledge. And the person some I missed out on it. So I think it would be really good if we all collectively show a little less surprise when somebody says, I don't know that. We can all just be like, Okay, well, I do know it. If you want to know more, I'm happy to help. So let's do that.

Okay, final point of today. And I think this is maybe maybe the most important now, let's let's not prioritise like that. Okay, final point. It really matters how you phrase it. It really does matter how you ask a question. Take a minute, take 10 seconds to think back to the last time that you ask somebody a question. And you started it with stupid question. But and then you asked a smart question. Hah!. Think about it. I'll wait. It was less than a week ago, isn't it. Yeah, it was like, I'm sure it was less than a week ago. Right? And then the other person inevitably responds with "Oh, no, that's actually a really good question." Right? Why do we do this? Why are we so afraid of being dumb that we try to walk reclaim ownership of our own stupidity? We're putting the dunce hat on our own heads. And this is a mistake, because we're not stupid. And our questions are not stupid. Next time you ask a question, and you're going to be tempted to say stupid question, but right, leave out the stupid question, but do it. I know it sounds really scary. It was scary at first, but you'll feel so liberated. It's gonna be great. Do it. Right. Another thing about putting the dunce hat on our own heads is singling ourselves out. And I fell for this a million times. At that assignment that I keep talking about, because it was so traumatic. And one of the things that kept happening was because you know, I was new to the company I was the only tester was the only one that didn't have a background in it. I thought that I was the only person who didn't know stuff, because I thought the whole team knows everything. And I'm the only person who doesn't. So I would ask, sorry, am I the only one who doesn't know? Whatever? Or be like, sorry, the tester again? Sorry, I don't know this, you know? And it gave everybody else a free pass to looking smarter than me because nobody said "Oh, no, I also don't know this." Of course they didn't because I just gave them a free pass. And I did this 1000 times. So what I learned during that assignment was rather than saying, am I the only one who doesn't know started asking "Who can tell me how this thing works?" Because what I learned is that everybody on that team had their own specialisation. Everybody was working on one tiny thing, nobody had a clue of what everybody else was talking about. So the next time I asked like, "Hey, who can tell me how this thing works?" The whole team was quiet. And you realise you guys have been pretending that I'm the only idiot. No, no, we're all idiots together. No. So we're all smart people together who don't know this one thing. If you ask "Who can tell me how this thing works?", and it stays quiet, then that tells you enough, it tells you that the whole team doesn't know something. And rather than it being an impediment to you, personally, it becomes an item on the to do list for the team. Figure out how this thing works. Works like a charm. If you only note down one thing from this talk, make this one make it "Who can tell me how x works?", because it is magic. Right?

Being positive in your questions. Um, I took this comic from your show, because I think it is really, really good at illustrating how we often frame things to be negative. We want to say thank you for understanding me, thank you for being there for me. And we say sorry, I'm I'm not making a lot of sense. And I think we do this on the workflow as well, I think we do this quite lot. So we start our questions with stupid question, but we say "Sorry, I don't know this," but "Sorry to bother you". But right. And these are all really negative things. And it kind of Prime's, the person that you're approaching to expect something negative something that they don't want to deal with. "Sorry for being a nuisance". "Sorry, I don't get this", "Sorry for being such a rubbish tester.", "Sorry, this must be really dumb." But stop doing that. I know. It's tempting. I know. It's scary not to do it. But next time. Be positive. Who cares? "Oh, thanks for explaining". "Thanks for being awesome". Why not go all out? "Thanks for helping me be a better tester." And the one I love, "I would love to know more about" because that way, you're not framing yourself as an idiot who doesn't know something, you're framing yourself as somebody who is so curious and interested and eager to learn, I would love to know more about and then the other person who knows a lot about that topic can tell you, and they will be happy, because they can help you with their knowledge. Gonna be good. I know, you're all gonna have a great week at work next week.

Right! Let's sum up whom you ask is incredibly important. So be brave, identify the person that can help you. In order to do that. You might need to identify your problem first. But it can also work the other way around. If I had asked this one manager guy, how me he would have probably understood my problem. He knew the team, he knew the product, asked the right person, and your problem might become clear to you. Right? Second point, people enjoy helping and they want to be asked to ask them, and you'll see that often they'll be super positive. Right? There is no shame in asking. Nobody knows. Sorry for the monsterous typo there. I don't know how that got in there. Okay, cool. You're not a new Foster. Nobody knows everything. But remember how everybody else's knowledge combined seems a lot more knowledge than you have. But everybody's knowledge individually, is roughly the same quantity. And by combining them all together, that's how you form a superhero team. And lastly, be positive in your requests. Because it really does help. Be positive, frame yourself as a positive person and frame the request for help as something positive that the other person wants to engage with.

So before we go, take a second. Second, a second acquired, I've been doing the hurricane thing. Who can help you think about this, think about something that you're stuck with. It can be work. It can be in your private life. I don't really mind but think about this who could help you? Who knows what your problem is? Someone that you may be uncomfortable asking. Who was it? How can you reach them? Do you have their phone number? Do you have their email address? Can you reach them on Twitter? reach out to them. Do it now or do after the conference but do it, worst case scenario They'll say I can't help you with that. Okay, good, then you know they're not the right person. And best case scenario, you'll get the support you need.

Thanks very much for watching. Reach out to me if you want to know anything else, or if you want my help. I'm happy to help. Of course, you can reach me on the channels on the left. And then if you want to find out more about Scott McCready, the awesome cybersecurity expert. That's his website and his Twitter handle. All right, thanks very much. Let's do a Q&A.

Where do you buy your batteries? I want that energy.

Gosh, if I could buy batteries like these, like I would be handing them out like candy

It was so engaging. Ok, how did you how did you assignments end> question

Oh, wow, well, story. Okay, so I'm at that company, I was actually on two assignments, but one was only one day per sprint. And that was like my happy team, that was a different team, it was a different assignment, it was even a different location. That was the Amsterdam office, and the other one was the Utrecht office. And the other assignment always went super well. Um, but in the end, they, they were working together with different parties, and they got different testers. So I got sort of phased out the other assignment at some point, they just decided, like, you know what, the assignment isn't going well. And we thought an external consultant, a tester would help. But we, you know, we can tell that it's not really working. So we're going to try a different method. But thanks for engaging all these months with us. So those two assignments ended. And we just parted ways, I think in a really good and positive way. No, like no accusations or anything. They weren't like, Oh, you were such a rubbish tester, like, was just like, it's not working for us. And that's okay. Um, and then, actually, this year, and this is why it's such a success story for me. The same company approached me again, because they had a new project for which they needed a tester. And they were like, yeah, we thought you were really good. And so we would like to ask you to join us on on this team on this project. Um, and so I joined. I've been working there for three weeks now. And it's been going great. And this is just so affirming to me. Like, it's, it's not that I was a rubbish tester. Um, it's really just that I wasn't in a situation where I could be my best self. And now I am. So yeah, thanks for asking.

That wat a really good question. I have plus one. So yes, everyone wanted to know how the assignments end. Okay. Any other questions? We have three minutes left. And so if there's no question I'm quickly going to. Are you using any self motivating methods? Or is it just coffee?

Gosh, I don't know about self motivating methods, but I get this quite a lot. I think I'm just a really energetic kind of person. I know what like once I go, I really go.

I can relate to that.

I love it. Chris, on one day, we must meet and be like the tiny human hurricane together.

We have to. Okay, so my question to you, first of all, thank you so much for the bullet points. I read like the last point of framing things positively? Because I am. I know a lot of people who do this, and I'm one of them when I start by saying sorry, I just have the question. Okay, so I want to remove that and just confidence and say I have a question. Okay. My question to you is when you say that there is no shame in asking for help. And this is a logical thing. Like, it's, it's a nice thing to hear. But first of all, in ourselves, we somehow we always feel shame. Like, I know a lot of people who feel the shame No matter how much you say, there's no shame in asking for help, we still feel it. And the second thing is, if you don't feel it, there are some companies where you work well, when you ask for help people turn around and look at you in a strange way. Like, you should know this by now. Like, how do you not know? And you get this feeling of judgement, okay. So even though we say there is no shame about asking for help, I still feel that in some areas there is and how do we deal with that?

Gosh, I think that's a really good point that you make, because we do have this culture of shame around it. I think one of the ways to start is by me doing this talk and by me telling all of you like let's stop pretending that not knowing things is a weird thing. Like let's stop being surprised. So I think one of the ways that we can deal with this is simply by being better ourselves by being less surprised ourselves. And the other thing that you mentioned is like Yeah, there's at some companies, there's a really toxic culture around asking for help. I think there's there's two ways that you can deal with that. And that really depends on how much time and energy you have for this. So that's really personal. One is to GTFO. Like, it's just a get out once you notice that there's such a toxic culture. Yeah, no, because it can be really draining to be shamed that way. So that's one option, like, just find a place where you are accepted more. Yes, if or if like, like, if you saw Sannes, dog, you want to get in the arena, one of the things that you can do is just try and battle that one day at a time. So when people say like, you should really know that by now you can be like, well, I don't, could you explain it, and just try and try and stand your ground. And I know that this is a lot easier said than done. And I'm not saying that I do this all the time. Like, I still fall down the shame trap all the time. But every time that you don't, every time that you just come out and say I don't know this, and people look at you, like why don't you know that and you just got, I just don't just tell me how it works, then I'll know, every time, every time that you do that, it's a victory. So even if 99 times you sit alone, and you Google it because you're afraid to ask, and that one time you go out and ask and you tell people, I don't know this, and I don't care. It's a victory.

Yes, I completed I'm gonna retain that phrase. I don't know. Yes. Thank you so much better. This was amazing. I really, really did. Thank you so so much.

I'm just gonnaput in a quick aside, because I just saw, I just saw from the corner of my eye a question that I always get. Where does my Scottish accent come from? I listened. I lived in Glasgow for four years. So there you go. That is how I know Scott because I met him. He's the partner of one of my friends from uni. I studied in Glasgow. So that's how it all comes together.

Thank you so much for answering them because I noticed the question came up a lot in the beginning.

Yeah, there you go.Thanks so much for having me. All right. Bye.

About the talk

This talk was originally titled "Five hacks to help you get the support you need! #1 will blow your mind"

This is a story about teamwork. In the summer of 2019, the London Metropolitan Police’s twitter account was hacked. Control of the account was soon recovered, but the culprits proved harder to find. Police were at a loss. However, there were about 5 million people in the UK with a very specific skill that could have helped solve the crime, if only they had been consulted. Asking for help can be incredibly difficult. I know, because I’ve been there. It is also vital to self-improvement. So how do you learn to reach out and get the support you need?

About Veerle Verhagen

Veerle Verhagen is a software tester with RisQIT. After getting a degree in Latin and Italian from the University of Glasgow, she taught English in Turin, Italy for a couple of years. Being someone who likes to do the unexpected, after that brief career in education she went and got a Masters’ in Indo-European Linguistics and then promptly turned around and switched to IT. She immediately felt at home in the software testing community, where almost everyone is even weirder than she is. When she’s not at the office, you might find Veerle outside exploring hiking trails, in the kitchen testing stew recipes, or at metal festivals applying her social skills.

Photo of Veerle Verhagen

Veerle Verhagen


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