Let’s be honest, for most of us, asking for help is not easy.
We’ve become so used to cultivating our independence that we regard asking for help as a sign of weakness, making us look incompetent.In fact, quite the opposite is true.
When we need help in our work environment, it’s usually quite obvious to colleagues and particularly to management, so stubbornly not asking to avoid looking inadequate has precisely the opposite effect and is unprofessional.
A Harvard Business School study conducted in 2014 revealed that asking for help makes us look more competent, not less. The reason won’t surprise you, but why it does may do. When we ask someone for help we validate their knowledge, intelligence and experience which reflects positively on us. We all love to be needed which is why, when we do ask for help, we often get more than we expected.
Another reason for not asking is because we don’t want to feel obliged to the giver, so we battle along on our own even when we know we need support. This shouts out ‘non-team player’ – a real negative in today’s business environment.
For me, and many other women, the word HELP itself is an issue – it’s a negative word, it touches a nerve. We can easily reframe our mindset by replacing it with more positive, constructive words, ie input, support, assistance, direction – using the nurturing language of Business coaches.
Here are some suggestions on how to ask for input that will not only get you what you need but help you to grow in the process.
- Keep your overarching intention in mind.
Having not achieved a position I motivated for, I knew, if I was to achieve my goal, I would have to ask for help. Keeping my intention firmly in mind allowed me to have the confidence to ask for the appropriate input and direction I needed without feeling vulnerable and it earned me respect.
- Be Brave.
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by what we need to get done, we don’t need something specific, we need to sort out the trees from the woods, we need to gain perspective. This very often comes from outside of ourselves – so ASK someone.
- Be Clear.
With the trees clearly defined, it’s easier to articulate a request. Being clear and succinct is the first step but telling someone WHY will achieve a much better response.
- Give a deadline.
Be cautious of expecting others to assist when things are left to the last minute. We receive more valuable input if people have time to fit it into their own work.
However, be sure to check they can provide the INPUT you need in time.
- Never underestimate what people are capable of.
It’s a truth that if we ask people to stretch a bit, to do more, they do. We need to take care not to place our limiting beliefs on others and besides, you never know how someone can assist, so give them the opportunity to show what they can do.
- Always be willing to assist others.
When we assist others and gain a reputation for doing so, even those we have never assisted will be willing to provide their input and guidance.
So, rather than feeling insecure and out of control when needing to ask for assistance, regard it as an opportunity to grow and improve your performance.
Author: Rose Murdock