Is it easy or difficult for you to ask for help? It is interesting to see the different perspectives of people when it comes to asking for help. Some see it as a sign of weakness, a failure to achieve, showing inexperience, or a lack of knowledge. What if it is a sign of strength, a way of using your resources to learn, or saving valuable time?
In the article, How to ask for help when you need it, Lolly Daskal says, “I am not sure how it began, but there is a definite belief among many people that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In my work as a leadership coach, I see it again and again in all kinds of organizations, companies, and teams: very smart people need help but don’t ask for it, and their refusal ends up keeping them from being as productive and effective as they could be otherwise.”
My husband is a good example of how refusing to ask for help can hurt your productivity. He will tell you that he wishes he was better at delegating work to others, but it is hard for him to release control over projects to others. He is overwhelmed with the amount of work he must produce, and unfortunately, much of his day is eaten up with meetings and phone calls. He will start on a project, and then another distraction happens. He could easily delegate some of his work, but he is afraid if it isn’t done well, it will reflect badly on him. He also refuses to ask for help with the many home upkeep projects because he feels he should be able to take care of it all himself.
Psychology Today describes why it is hard to ask for help. “In a society that praises self-help and self-reliance, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to ask our colleagues, friends, and even our family for the assistance we need. The mere thought of asking for help can eat away at our ego, undermine our confidence, make us question our abilities, and even paralyze us with anxiety. Yet in modern life—at a time when we are more digitally connected and emotionally detached than ever—the stark reality is that no one can go it alone.”
I was the director of mentoring at my school and when I first started, I was excited to help new teachers acclimate to the school. What I didn’t expect was that some people would see being in the mentor program as an insult. No matter how many years you have been doing something, there is always more to be learned, so I was surprised at the attitude that they didn’t need any help. In this case, not asking for help can limit your opportunities to learn and grow.
Asking for help from experts for what we are trying to do can help us learn how to do something correctly the first time, and most people enjoy helping.
Here are a few ideas to help you ask for help.
Be specific about what you need.
Ask politely instead of framing it like a demand.
Be helpful to others to inspire a climate of helpfulness.
Be understanding of others’ time constraints.
Realize that most people will feel honored to be asked for help.