What are your thoughts on asking for help? Not emergency I-am-having-a-heart-attack kind of help, mind you. I’m talking about asking for help in a workplace or professional situation.
Confession – I totally suck at it.
I wasn’t always this way. I believe it started in earnest when I opened up my own business. I began to get fixated with doing it all and doing it all PERFECTLY.
Which, of course, was impossible.
So there I was, drowning in responsibilities and refusing to ask coworkers or board members or colleagues for help. You can probably guess where this tale is going, right? STRAIGHT DOWN THE SPIRAL OF MEDIOCRITY.
Asking for assistance seemed to me like an indicator of being weak or incompetent. I’d almost rather sit on a project for weeks rather than ask for assistance. (Sound familiar to anyone?)
Today I asked (okay, begged) for help on a volunteer project. Now, not only did I ask for help, but I asked for help on something that should have already been completed. I admitted to being behind the deadline and kindly asked my colleague to pick up my slack. (Seriously people, this type of thing would have killed me a year ago. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone…)
You know what happened?
An amazing thing! She gladly stepped in and finished the outreach I couldn’t get to. She nailed it in less than an hour without attitude, accusation or judgement.
Honestly. I really feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders. It is so life changing that I’m a little angry at myself for being so stubborn in the past.
In researching this “issue” that I have, I’ve come across so many others that suffer from the same inability to reach out.
In an article written for the New York Times, author Alina Tugend suggests taking the following actions when asking for help:
- Be straightforward. Ask in specific terms, but do not micromanage.
- Rely less on the obvious people.
- Bypass phone calls or e-mail messages if at all possible and make your request in person and in private. Sometimes anonymity is useful, however.
- Pick up on cues is that an enthusiastic or a reluctant yes?
- Say thanks when the agreement is struck, when the need has been met and when you next see the person who helped you.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to overcome those fears, admit your weaknesses and ask someone for help already!