“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it.”
Imagine this scenario: you have been assigned to complete a difficult project and get stuck on a problem half-way through. This problem doesn’t have an obvious answer and you’re fresh out of idea’s.
What would you do?
One option would be to take a break, refocus and then try again. Another would be to try still harder, in hopes that the increase in effort would resolve the problem. Or…perhaps the most obvious option of all: ask for help.
Now for some of us, asking for assistance when we are uncertain or stuck, is a comfortable and natural thing to do. And the benefits of counsel and support when tackling something rough speak for themselves.
However…there are some among us (yes, probably both male and unconsciously imitating depictions of “hero’s”) who find asking for help to be, if not a semi foreign option, then at the very least, an uncomfortable one.
This article is for those people who know they need to learn to reach out, but don’t know where to start. We’ll learn about several easy, practical steps to ask for help in a productive way.
Let’s jump in!
First up a quick disclaimer: we’ve all been around someone who’s constantly whining for help and can’t seem to do anything themselves. Obviously, this is not what we’re talking about here. No one wants to be around someone like that. And some develop a habit of finding power by being the victim, always in need of recognition and rescue.
In my mind, when you ask for help, it should be when you’ve tried everything you can think of and it’s still not working. Or perhaps when you feel overwhelmed. It’s certainly not something to be done casually.
People’s time is valuable and none of us want to be that person who asks for help only to have someone point out the obvious solution that’s been staring us in the face the whole time.
So, if your reason is genuine how do you get over that insecure feeling when asking for help?
The first step is to pause.
Yep. Simply pause and acknowledge the feeling as it is, without trying to change or analyze it. Notice where you feel it in your body and try taking a deep breath (or three).
Now, take a quick emotional inventory of yourself and see why you might be feeling unsure about reaching out for help. Often, underneath the surface, we feel like we won’t be respected if we show vulnerability or that we might look silly if we don’t have all the answers.
Whatever it is, once you find it, you can address it. Hidden emotional drivers are incredibly powerful, but once we identify and name them we can start to move past them.
So sit with whatever comes up for you. Once you have a better grasp on why it’s uncomfortable to ask for help, you can then take the next step:
Asking for help, just like anything else, is a skill and takes practice to get good at. So set some kind of routine for yourself to get “reps” in when you can.
Below are some idea’s to get you started:
Tip #1: For 1 week, every time it crosses your mind, ask for help
One good way of getting over an irrational fear of something, is to just try it. Simply accustom yourself through exposure to whatever you’re nervous about and gradually the fear will fade.
Tip #2: Ask for help with the little things
There’s no need to start right away with asking for help on large matters. To get comfortable with it, try asking for help or even advice about mundane things. What restaurants are hot now, what good movies are out, anything really. As long as you don’t know the answer and they do, then it qualifies as an asking for help “rep”.
Tip #3: Refine your delivery
For some, it might be helpful to plan out a certain way of asking for help. The way you ask for help can often determine what and how much of it you get.
The two most important aspects of your delivery are:
1. Ask in a kind voice
Careful not to sound either demanding or impatient when asking for help. Remember, the better you’re able to communicate that you’re in need, the more likely it is that they’ll aid you.
2. Clearly state the problem
Clearly stated requests beget clearly stated answers. Nothing gets in the way of solving things like unclear terms or language. Stating what the problem is with minimal fluff allows the person on the other end to spend minimal time “translating” what you said and the problem will get solved faster.
Without a doubt, for some guarded people, asking for help will seem not only uncomfortable, but unnecessary. However, leveraging the advice of the people around us, not only speeds up problem solving, but it creates stronger bonds between people.
And as human’s, our greatest strength has been our capacity to work together to solve challenges.
When information is flowing freely in a group, the group can truly flourish and solve issues with peak efficiency.
If everyone is afraid to reach out, the result will be a group of people in different corners, silently banging their heads against the wall.
So go ahead.
Kindly ask for help.
Remember that the greatest human achievements in history were built by collectives not individuals. Working together is what allowed us to become the most successful species in the known universe.
And ultimately helping each other is what fulfills us and keeps us going.
Now go out there and crush it!
Here’s a set of practical challenges that you can do today, to improve the items discussed in this article:
- Ask for recommendations for 2 new restaurants in your area today. Keep it simple and enjoy the benefits it brings.
- Practice making your language as clear as possible today. Notice the changes that follow.
Written by Judah Beck