George V. Reilly

Asking for Help

It’s better to stay calm when things aren’t going well. Stress and panic are contagious. When you’re broad­cast­ing stress or panic on all channels, other people start picking it up. If you can keep your cool, others are more likely to remain calm too. Often that’s for the best, but sometimes it backfires because others in­cor­rect­ly believe that everything is still okay.

Knowing when to ask for help is an art. You learn a lot when you persevere and try different things, many of which may fail. The failures will likely show you where your un­der­stand­ing is deficient; you learn some of the many ways in which things can go wrong. If you throw up your hands in defeat at the first obstacle, you don’t learn nearly as much and you earn a poor reputation. But if you’re too stubborn or too reluctant to ask for help, you hurt yourself and your team and it also hurts your reputation. When to ask for help depends upon the team. Some teams are very macho and expect everyone to have a high pain threshold. In our team, we’ve preferred to encourage people to pair and to unblock themselves quickly.

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