We live in a world that glorifies self-sufficiency and independence. We admire the rugged individuals who tackle challenges alone, and we are encouraged to believe that we should have all the answers. As a result, the thought of asking for help can be daunting and anxiety-inducing as we fear being judged or seen as incompetent. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a show of courage and testament to our strength, and our capacity to grow.
In this blog we explore why asking for help is hard, the benefits of seeking support and how to ask for what you need.
Why is Asking for Help so Hard?
- Fear of Vulnerability: One of the primary reasons we find it challenging to ask for help is the fear of appearing vulnerable. We worry that by admitting we need assistance, we are exposing our weaknesses and inadequacies to others. However, vulnerability is not a weakness but a fundamental aspect of being human. It takes immense courage to be vulnerable and open ourselves up to the possibility of rejection or judgment.
- Self-Reliance Culture: Our society places a high value on self-reliance. From an early age, we are encouraged to be independent and self-sufficient. While these qualities are important, they should not be taken to the extreme. Recognising that no one can do everything on their own is a sign of maturity and wisdom.
- Perceived Burden: Sometimes we hesitate to ask for help because we worry about burdening others. We may believe that our problems are insignificant compared to those of others or that we should be able to handle our issues without inconveniencing anyone. It’s crucial to remember that most people are willing to help when asked and find fulfilment in doing so.
- Fear of Rejection: The fear of rejection or being turned down when seeking help can be paralysing. We may think, “What if they say no?” or “What if they think less of me?” However, it is important to acknowledge that rejection is a possibility, but it does not define our worth or the value of our request.
The Benefits of Asking for Help
- Innovative Solutions: When we ask for help, we tap into the collective wisdom and experience of others. Different perspectives can lead to innovative solutions to our problems that we might not have considered on our own.
- Connection: Asking for help strengthens our connections with others. It fosters trust and deepens our relationships. People appreciate being asked for assistance, as it shows that we value their expertise and care about their input.
- Personal Growth: Embracing the discomfort of asking for help can lead to personal growth and resilience. It requires self-awareness and a willingness to learn and adapt. Over time, it can boost your self-confidence and problem-solving skills.
How to Ask for Help
- Carefully choose who to ask: When deciding who to ask for assistance, prioritise individuals with expertise related to the specific problem. They may possess knowledge to address the query or be familiar with the tools to be used. Expressing appreciation for their skills and experience when seeking help can foster a collaborative relationship and make them feel valued for their expertise. Another option is to approach someone you respect who would be open to offering assistance. They may not be the expert in your chosen field, but could make for a good thought-partner or sounding board.
- Be specific in the request: Providing specific details in the request helps people understand your expectations for the conversation and the problem you aim to solve. This specificity furnishes your coworker with context and a starting point for collaboration while indicating the time frame within which they should respond.
- Consider timing: When seeking assistance, it’s advisable that we check the individual’s availability and inquire whether they can spare some time to help. Clearly communicate whether the matter is urgent or not and propose scheduling a suitable meeting time. The method of contacting the person can also be based on the urgency of the situation—for instance, opting for a phone call or instant messaging for immediate responses, or using email when there’s more flexibility in awaiting a reply.
- Create a list of things to do and potential solutions: Demonstrating our proactive efforts to address an issue and presenting potential solutions can increase a person’s willingness to assist us. This approach showcases our initiative in handling the challenge independently and provides a basis for their input. Additionally, having these preparations ready when seeking assistance underscores our competence and problem-solving abilities, offering insight into the nature of the problem we are experiencing.
The stubborn part of our ego that believes we can do anything might be bruised by asking for help, but doing so can also make us stronger, more successful, and more confident.