Thoughts On Asking Questions

As a software tester, I need to coorperate with many guys in my daily work, internally like software/simulator developers, architects etc. While externally, with application engineers(AE) for test equipments. Recently, I meet some problems with a certain test equipment and communicate with its AEs frequently. And here are some thoughts on an interesting thing happened during this period.

The problem I met was a bit complex and it’s hard to decribe in only words. And at first, I was not sure whether my configuration and settings were correct or not. So I asked AE why some abnormal results were encountered during testing via Email(he works and lives in UK). Actually, I asked for the possible reasons because I was trying to debug it by myself.

Later with several rounds of back and forth replying, both of us were agitated and tired by endless mails without actual progress. I blamed him for not looking into my queries carefully and he might think I am unreasonble and make trouble out of nowhere.

At last when he visited China, we had a face to face discussion. And about half an hour later, we were both clear about the problem. Even now the problem is still under investigation, we are satisfied with current situation because finally we can understand what each other means.

Well. It’s all my fault and shame on myself… When I looked back the whole procedure, I found I made several mistakes. Actually I have to answer many questions from colleagues and help them to solve problems during work. I noticed a few guys were terrible at asking questions(some of the answers could be simply found on Google). However I made almost all of those stupid mistakes this time…

  1. Didn’t state my questions and needs as clear as possible at very beginning And the statement should be concise but not simple. At first I thought I was familiar with this AE because we have worked together many times. He should know what I meant. Wrong! Totally wrong!!! Never assume others could understand you without enough information. I should have decribe the testing background, exact testing procedure, testing purpose, expected results and the actual results, etc. On the opposite, I just briefly introduced my problem and directly asked for reasons why it happened.
  2. Didn’t stop those non-sense emails on time. As I mentioned, the problem could hardly be described in words. I should have initiated a tele-conference instead of endless and useless emails. Then I could show him my test environment and results directly.
  3. Show respect. Though I took care of my writings, I might have used some heavy words and might be slightly offensive which I feel terribly sorry. We had good cooperations previously. After all it’s me to request help from him.

Anyway it’s a good experience and makes me think about how I behave as a question-asker. Hope it won’t harm our furture cooperation :-) Maybe I need to read The Art of Asking Questions.