Micropowers: Learn to Speak Up and Be Heard

How we discovered to speak up, and you might as well

Everyone has a particular ability they can use for good.

Many of us don’t like to ask for help. When the team is busy, the deadlines pile up, and it is easy to be lured by the illusion of disempowerment. We are ‘just’ testers after all: what can we do? We throw up roadblocks for ourselves and buckle down and continue with the work. In this talk, we, Stephan and Eveline, will present ways to ask for help by using the abilities that we have but may need to discover. We call these micro powers.

Being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease has a way of changing everything. In our cases, it forced both of us to reckon with our reality. Both of us started to question things we had taken for granted. The rollercoaster of diagnosis, medical terminology, treatment, surgery, and prognosis requires a tremendous amount of energy. So, at work, we had to learn to speak up and ask for help. People listened in a way that we had not anticipated before. Eveline feebly asked for help when reentering the workplace but got all the support she wanted and even more. That resulted in an instructive and fun assignment as a training developer. When Stephan was diagnosed and received his initial treatment plan, his project team told him to feel free to take all the time needed to recover. After his treatment, Stephan asked the same project he left quite spontaneously whether they would be interested in working with him again. And they were!

Slowly, we found that our illness had changed our attitude about many things: We could question everything. Nothing had to stay the way it used to be. We thought more about the greater contexts of what we were working on. In doing so, we discovered our own ‘micro powers’ and what context to apply them in. We call them micro powers because that is much less intimidating than ‘super powers’. Additionally, it is often in little steps and small actions that we find our powers. Stephan is now questioning tasks that don’t seem to be valid anymore. Instead, he suggests evaluating new ways.

Eveline found out that one of her micro powers is to start a conversation when she sees ‘strange’ things happen and to not take them for granted. We want to help you think of your own micro powers. Through examples of our testing work, our micro powers in action and the results they brought, we answer the questions: What does it take to ask for help? And what benefits can it bring us?