If you are like me you don’t like asking for help. Even worse are those moments when you are struggling and someone just offers assistance without being asked. Frustrating when people do that!
Be honest, we all need help!
The other day I observed my colleagues at work and I saw one of the developers struggling with his coding and has been busy trying to solve the problem for at least an hour if it wasn’t two. I couldn’t take it anymore and I intervened. I didn’t offer assistance (I hate it when people do that) but I asked what the specific problem was that he was facing. I expected him to react frustrated but it was quite the opposite.
The programmer was delighted to unravel the predicament he was facing. I guess he didn’t think I could help, after all I have no technical background. He was right though. I couldn’t help him directly but I knew exactly who could solve the problem and pointed him to the right direction. Once I did this I saw both the anger and frustration that I expected before. He dreaded asking a fellow programmer.
Suddenly I started smiling. I caught myself thinking: ‘Why didn’t he just raise the question 45 minutes ago? IT ISN’T THAT HARD!’
I laughed because I caught myself doing exactly the same thing. I don’t ask for help but am dumbfounded when others don’t either.. Talk about double standards or having a log in your own eye.
So I raised the question:
Why do we feel scared to ask for help or why do we accept help from one person but not the next?
We are scared because when we do ask, we lose face. We accept defeat and let our potential helpers score a goal. At that point we don’t regard our helper as our teammate but the striker of an opposing team. We allow them a freebie, to win. He is one point up and I am one point down. The score isn’t 1 – 0, it is worse! It’s 1 – (-1). Or at least that is how it feels.
Isn’t that weird? Shouldn’t we feel like we are on the same team and offer a pass to our teammate so we can outmanoeuvre the defence and score a goal together?
You don’t ask for help because:
- You don’t want to look stupid
- You don’t trust people enough
- You don’t like to surrender control
I personally hated giving up that control for a long time but I have learnt to think differently. I don’t believe asking for help makes me stupid or that I lose control. For me it’s quite the opposite. I acknowledge I don’t know something and I take control by grasping the opportunity to learn from someone.
Why you should know when to ask for help
Asking for help isn’t easy but if I can change, so can you. Once I started to ask for help I noticed these changes
- I got over the arrogance that I knew or needed to know everything
- I earned more respect, not less
- I was viewed as more authentic
- I gained other people’s trust
- I was asked to help others which led me to feel amazing
- I connected more deeply
- Tons of pressure was instantly lifted from my shoulders
How to ask for help:
Learn to step over the mental barrier of asking for help may seem daunting but here’s how you can ease your way into it
identify the right people.
Ask help from the people you trust. Those you find knowledgeable and won’t put you down or make you feel like an idiot. This shouldn’t be too hard because people like to give help. It makes them feel great.
Help others first
By helping others first you might feel like you scored the goal and feel exhilarated. In all your exhilaration do you feel like you won and the other person lost? I bet you won’t. I bet you will feel like you both won!
Don’t apologise when asking for help
We often start asking for help with ‘Sorry to bother you with this but …’ It seems innocent right, polite even.. No, by apologising you aren’t passing the ball to your team mate. Instead you are already putting yourself down.
You aren’t apologising for bothering them, you are apologising because you think you failed finding the answer to your problem yourself.
Instead next time say this: ‘Hey X, I am stuck on a problem and could use your help solving it. When are you free to have a look at it with me?’
The second script is just as polite but do you feel the difference?
You asked for help and you challenged your team mate to solve it WITH you. You didn’t forfeit nor fail. You proactively engaged your helper to find a solution together.
Effectively asking and giving help is reciprocating back and forth.
Being able to ask for help is a vital skill to learn if you want to be more!