Asking for help


I have a confession to make. I’m not very good at asking for help. There are probably a lot of reasons for it, none of which are interesting enough to dissect here. There was a time, though, when I thought it didn’t matter… that in fact, asking for help was a sign of weakness. And, it meant obligation. Besides, there was always that, um, rejection factor.  You know the one.

Lately though, I am learning that the weakness does not lie in the asking.  More likely, it lies in the not asking.

So, if you are like me and want to get better at it, where might we start?  Well, here’s what I’ve been telling myself lately:

Before asking for help, know what you need help with

In my experience there is never a shortage of people willing to help. In fact, helping is, I think, something that comes quite naturally to most human beings. Having said that, people who are willing to help should not be mistaken for mind readers.  Some may be super intuitive and able to discern what is needed without much discussion. But, most people will need some guidance and direction. The less specific we are in explaining our needs, the greater the possibility they will not be met.

Note to self: Be more thoughtful. Know what you need. Learn to express it clearly.

When you know what you need help with, ask the right people

It is one thing to know what to ask for. It is entirely another to know who to ask. This requires us to understand and appreciate others and what they might be willing and/or able to help us with.

Note to self: Ask your favorite computer geek to help you understand more about the Internet. Do not ask him to help you fix your leaky faucet. No doubt, he has one of his own at his house.

Accept what is offered with grace

Sometimes the help that is needed is advice, or another perspective on something we have been struggling with. When what we really want is validation and what we need, and get, is something different, it’s tempting to rationalize it away. The thing is, people who offer another perspective on a particular situation, (even if it doesn’t fit with our view of the world), are giving us an opportunity to think and do something different to help ourselves. And that is an offering not to be discounted.

Note to self: Say “Thank you” not “Sorry I asked” no matter what someone might tell you. A risk was taken to offer it.  Gratitude trumps disgruntlement.

So, what do you think? What benefits have you experienced from simply asking for help? What gets in your way? What is the value to you of getting better at asking for help?

Author: Gwyn Teatro – Originally a guest post for 3Plus International

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