Sasha Laundy

Your Brain's API: Giving and Getting Technical Help

My talk at Pycon on April 11, 2015.


Software engineers are never done learning as our field is always changing. We are always beginners at some things and experts at others. Along the way from beginner to expert we ask a lot of questions, but it can be intimidating to ask for help. There are some common mistakes experts inadvertently make that make people feel self-conscious and stupid for getting help, when asking for help is actually the best thing they could do!

This talk will be split into two halves: giving and then getting technical help. It will give you concrete tools and tips for asking for help, and give you a checklist to see if you’re currently making any of these common mistakes when it’s your turn to answer questions. Improve your communication skills, get along better with your coworkers and colleagues, and learn faster than ever.



My slides tend to be sparse and visual. I recommend watching the video.

References & Inspiration & Thanks

I’ll also post some of the links and writings that inspired me and helped shape my thinking on this topic. There was also a lot that wouldn’t fit in a half hour but are totally worth reading, so I’ll post some of those as well. I probably won’t have time to do this until Monday, so please bookmark this page and check back! :)

Amy pointed something out to me that I wish I had included in my talk: students with bad teachers don’t internalize that their teachers are bad. They assume that they are bad! Which is why it’s even more important to take action to improve your helping skills.


“I loved your talk! I’ve been on both sides of this problem and I’m always looking for concrete examples and tips to improve, and your talk was perfect.”