How to Ask for Help – and Get It
Help Me! No, Don’t!
Why is it that so many of us feel bad or embarrassed about asking for help?
We don’t like to see ourselves as needy or vulnerable. And sometimes we worry that people will think less of us if we do ask for assistance. Some of us worry that we will be hassling other people or burdening them with our problems.
Even worse than this in some ways, some people who, when offered help, refuse to take it. “No, it’s alright, I can manage.” And then they struggle on alone. Actually, if a person cares about you, they might well prefer to give you some time and assistance rather than watch you battle through quicksand on your own.
Let’s dispel the myths about asking for help and taking it right now.
FACT 1 – Rather than feeling hassled, most people actually like being asked for help. It makes them feel important, wanted and needed and shows how much the person asking values their time, expertise and support.
FACT 2 – Refusing help when offered can seem unfriendly and also makes that person less likely to offer in the future. If someone offers to help, they’ve already shown that you and the issue you’re dealing with matter to them. Don’t turn them down and put them off offering help when you need it the most.
FACT 3 – Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re useless. We ask for help everyday indirectly, whenever we call the plumber, ask for directions, consult a doctor or let a cashier put our groceries through a till. You’re, no doubt, amazing at many things, but even a highly-skilled surgeon goes to a dentist to get their teeth checked. Sometimes we need a different area of expertise than our own.
FACT 4 – Asking for help shows that you’re a strong person. The strong person admits when they need some assistance and takes it gratefully. If you struggle on, held back by fear of asking for help, you’re giving in to weakness, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Break it by asking for help and seeing how much easier it is when you have a helping hand.
Effective Ways to Ask for Help
If you’re afraid someone might say “no” to your request, then introduce it with a softening phrase, such as:
“I know you’re an expert at this, so would you mind…”
“You did such a good job with X, would you mind helping with Y…”
“I wouldn’t ask but I know you’re great at X, so could I ask you to…”
Another effective way to ask for help is by starting small. Ask for a smaller form of assistance, like five minutes of someone’s time to do something related to the task or issue you need help with. Once a person agrees to help in a small way and gets the good feeling of having lent a hand and sees the positive results of their help, the more likely they will be to agree to further assistance.
What If They Still Say “No”?
If one person can’t help, they are unlikely to just say “no” and leave it at that – most people will give you a genuine reason why they can’t assist. It may be that they can’t do it at this moment, but can help you later on. Or perhaps what you are asking for may just be something they are unable to do. Don’t take it as a personal rejection — most people will gladly help others if they can.
Just because one person cannot help you, it doesn’t mean that no-one else will be able to help. Don’t let set-backs make you think that you’re all alone and stuck. You are likely to have a variety of friends, family or colleagues who might be able to assist you. You could even ask the person you thought most likely to be able to help you, who they would ask if they were in your situation.
If there really is no-one available to help you in your inner circle, you can always turn to professionals – they are most likely to have the time and expertise to help you, whether the issue is unblocking a plughole or helping you work through some issues in your head. They are called professionals for a reason.
If you’re struggling to wait for help to arrive, it is always worth looking for advice on the internet. There are many forums where people will have had problems similar to yours, from health issues to tricky tasks, to IT problems or even pet-care. You will sometimes even find professionals chipping in on forums or posting how-to videos on YouTube. Look at a number of sources of advice to formulate a good solution for you.
Helping Makes the World Go Round
Help others if you can – it’s a great feeling to help others and can take your mind off your own problems. When you see how nice it is to feel helpful to someone, why would you deny someone else that pleasure by refusing to let them help you?
And of course, the more kind favours you do for other people, the more likely it is that people will be glad to help you in your time of need. They may well offer help immediately once they know you have a problem, but if they are unaware of how they could help you, you only need to ask. You’ll most likely find that it’s not so scary after all and you get through your problem much more quickly ad easily.