Asking for help. Is there a good way to do so?

Yesterday I was having a serious conversation with a person I know. Someone in fact I have known for decades. I could tell by the sound of their voice that someone was wrong, or perhaps that they were struggling with something that didn’t come up initially during our conversation. Sure enough, my instincts were correct, and I asked a few more questions, and the person revealed what was going on.  In fact, there was too much going on, and they were so overwhelmed, they didn’t know what to do. Or, how to ask for help. 

This person’s situation was quite extreme, and from an outside perspective, you would have thought they could have easily been seeking help. They were not. Instead, they were suffering alone, and ironically, were helping everyone else around them. 

Perhaps because this person finds it to be so easy to help others, that they have either neglected being able to help themselves, or they have fallen into a common conundrum. The conundrum is failing to provide self-care. This can often happen, and is sometimes done unconsciously. One of the reasons this occurs is that although it may sound counter intuitive, for some people, it is sometimes easier for them to care for others than it is to care for themselves. 

Another person I know who was admittedly challenged with self-care, would say that he would struggle with being able to metaphorically “put the oxygen mask on first”. Being able to take care of yourself first, appears to be a “no-brainer”, but it isn’t always for everyone. This scenario can be further complicated due to the situation the person finds themselves in (e.g., work, or personal). Although if someone is challenged with being able to ask for help from others, it typically is something which impacts all aspects of their life. 

When I started thinking about whether we are taught how to ask for help, I thought back to a time in my life when I was learning to be a lifeguard. As I was going through my training, there was a great deal of focus on how to simultaneously help the person you were rescuing, while also making sure you would be safe too. This seems obvious, but when you are in a situation when you are rescuing someone, sometimes they or the surrounding circumstances can make it much more difficult to rescue them. 

Having the right tools to help someone is critical. A large part of being able to do so, is knowing what questions to ask the person, with the goal of getting them to open up and share with you what is going on. However, let’s turn the scenario around, and put ourselves in the “shoes” of the person who is in need of help. Everyone has been in this situation, and admittedly, some are better at being able to ask for help than others. The people who have cracked the code on being able to ask for help, are in a much stronger position than others. This is despite the thinking for some people that it is a sign of weakness when you ask for help. I’m not sure where this thinking came from, but it does not serve anyone well to think this way. Especially those who are in leadership positions. 

Both personally and in the workforce if someone doesn’t and should be asking for help, and the situation they are in which needs attention, tends to decline further. Ignoring a situation because someone doesn’t want to ask for help generally does not end well, and I can guarantee most of us have given this option a try before. 

Yes, it can take courage for some people to ask for help. However, asking for help shouldn’t be tied to pride or emotions which conjure negative associations (e.g., appearing weak, exposing something you don’t know how to do, being embarrassed, you don’t deserve the help). Although I realize for many people these are common reasons they do not ask for help, asking for help can get much easier to do, and it applies to all situations. Practice.

Below are some suggestions you can consider if you are the type of person who does not like asking for help. 

·      Asking for help takes practice. So, if you need or think you will be in a situation where you will need help at some point, don’t let your situation get to the point of putting you in an extreme situation before you ask for support. 

·      Think about the factors contributing to why you are uncomfortable with asking for support. Are they rational or reasonable? 

·      Why do you think you have to be able to do everything yourself? No one person is an expert at everything, and no one is perfect. 

·      Is there something you can do to help the person you might need help from? Perhaps you will be more comfortable asking them for their support if you are able to help them in some way?

·      Have you considered that people want to help you or others? Most people find it highly gratifying to help someone. 

·      Will your situation improve if you were to ask for help? 

·      Do you want your situation to improve? It can if you ask for help. 

There isn’t one perfect way to ask for help, and when you need help, I hope you will get to a point of being able to comfortably and confidently ask for it. Remember, people by nature like to help others. Keep this in mind when you are reluctant to ask someone for the help you need. 

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #Workplace #Professional #Personal #Help #HowToAskForHelp 

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