It’s essential to ask for help when you need it. Today’s challenges are complex, and there are many variables to consider. Getting others’ ideas, tips, and perspectives can help you overcome those tough challenges. And don’t underestimate the importance of making a connection with others. As you collaborate, you build trust and learn how to work together. When that happens, you can move mountains.
Step 1: Put Yourself Out There
People often don’t ask for help because they assume the person they ask might say “no.” The fear of rejection is intense, and nearly every human worries about this to some degree. Asking for help can be uncomfortable, and people want to avoid the embarrassment of rejection, so they say nothing.
But research studies have shown that people often guess wrong about the people they want to ask. People generally see themselves as valuable and are often willing to take action when asked. That social pressure alone drives people to say, “how can I help,” even if they hesitate for other reasons.
So go ahead, ask for help more often and see what happens.
Step 2: Clarify What Kind of Help You Need
Before you ask for help, clarify what you need. Knowing this can determine who you ask and what you need them to do. Think about your problem and decide what missing part matters the most.
Do you need to explain a big-picture situation, or do you have a specific topic to discuss? Do you need to gather knowledge or complete a task? Write down what you need so you can say it clearly. Make sure your list is simple and accurate, so it’s easier to get the right help.
Step 3: Be Thoughtful About “Who” to Ask
Once you know what kind of help you need, consider who to ask. Remember that you may need to speak to a few people before getting the help you need.
Consider what kind of information you need. Do you need to speak to a manager? Or can a peer or someone from your onboarding program help?
If you aren’t sure, who could help you, pick someone that may have some knowledge and start there.
You may need to approach someone you’ve never met to get help. If this is your best option, gather your courage and prepare to ask.
Step 4: Be Thoughtful About “How” to Ask
How you ask for help makes a big difference, so think about how you’d like someone to approach you. Use the following tips to improve your chances of getting a “yes”:
Avoid making your request sound like a demand – A request without context can imply that the other person is obliged to do something for you.
Appeal to them with kindness and humility – You want to promote empathy from the other person, so show your vulnerability somehow. Say that you can’t figure something out or tried something that didn’t work.
Show trust and respect – Show a willingness to listen and learn from the other person. Your respectful behavior shows that you are open-minded and trusting.
Be considerate of timing – Avoid asking for help at the last minute or at odd times of the day. Recognize that you may interrupt them, then ask about a good time to talk.
Step 5: Be Specific
Use probing questions to get more specific about what you need to ask.
- Who specifically needs help? Clarify if it’s only you or if others are involved.
- How will their actions help you? Explain what you have tried already and where you fall short.
- Why did you choose them to help you? Mention their expertise, a referral, or your connection.
Where – Where do you need to have help? If that applies, narrow down the part you need help with or a physical location.
- When do you need help? State a deadline if you have one.
- What is your specific need? Spell out what you want in plain language.
Step 6: Ask, “Can You Help Me?”
Ending your request with this question is another way to show your vulnerability. Most people want to be helpful, and a person is less likely to turn you away when you ask this question directly.
Even if the other person can’t help, they are more likely to reply with kindness. They might suggest different ways of getting assistance or other people to ask.
Step 7: Give Help to Others
Make a habit of offering your time and talents to others. Not only can you understand what it’s like to be on the other side of the coin, but the process can seem less intimidating.
It also moves your mindset in a generous direction, which is suitable for all your social connections.