For most of us, asking for help is something that’s rarely a pleasant experience. We might be afraid to seem weak or vulnerable, or we’re scared that we’ll be rejected (and consequently humiliated).
But whether you’re at work or at home, you don’t have to sacrifice your dignity or pride to get help. If you can change your mindset and understand that asking for help is usually a good thing, you can learn to to make requests with confidence and get the assistance you need.
How to Ask for Help
Below are 6 things you should keep in mind when asking for help so that you can make your request with confidence and have a better chance of getting what you need.
1. Remember: It’s NOT a Weakness
Asking for help can be intimidating, and the reason most of us have trouble with it is that it makes us feel vulnerable or weak.
But asking for help is not a weakness! In fact, it’s a strength. Asking for help requires courage (and enough self-awareness to know you need help in the first place).
So whether you’re asking for help at work or in your personal life, there’s no need to feel weak or ashamed. You should feel proud of yourself for taking the necessary steps to get things done.
2. Demonstrate That You’ve Already Tried
When you ask for help with a task or project, briefly state what you’ve already tried. There are a few reasons you should do this.
First: You’ll save the other person time by ruling out what you’ve already tried, so they can focus their response on other possible solutions. They might also be able to help you identify what went wrong when you tried troubleshooting.
Second: People are more inclined to help those who have made an attempt at helping themselves first. Now, don’t waste hours staring at a blank screen hoping the solution will just come to you after you’ve tried everything you could think of—because it won’t happen. Try what you can, then seek help.
3. Consider the Timing
Consider the timing of your request. If the person you’re asking seems overwhelmed at the moment, it’s probably best to hold off a little longer (if it’s not really urgent).
If you’re not sure when the best time to ask someone for help is, just ask. Say: “I’d like to ask your help with something. When would be the best time to talk to you about it?”
If you do this, you won’t have to spend all day wondering if it’s the right time to mention your dilemma or not.
4. Be Clear About What You Need
When asking for help, be clear about what exactly you need and when you need it. Unless your boss or coworker is a mind reader, they won’t know what you need unless you state it clearly.
Save yourself and the other person time by helping to ensure you get what you need the first time.
5. Don’t Ramble
While you should be clear about what you need, there’s no need to over-explain or start rambling.
This often happens to people who aren’t comfortable asking for help, since over-explaining everything they tried or what they think might work makes them feel less vulnerable about asking for a hand.
If that’s you, see tip #1! It might not be easy to ask for help, but don’t kill yourself with anxiety or nerves over something that others are rarely brave enough to do.
If you’re feeling nervous about asking for help, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re taking action to get your problems resolved. And that’s not weak at all!
6. Give Help
People who are known for being friendly and helpful are more likely to be granted help when they ask for it—and frequently helping others will also make it easier for you to ask.
So if a colleague asks you for help finishing a reasonable task, give it! Or, if you see a mom struggling with her stroller and bags, offer a hand. Why not? Research even shows that offering help can make you happier and healthier.
Remember: Self Care Isn’t Selfish
Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember to take some time to recharge your batteries. Ask yourself: What do you need right now? More water? More sleep? A conversation with a close friend?
There’s no shame in asking for help, and there’s no shame in a little self care when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Check out our self care ideas (they’re all free!) that you can try out today to restore your energy.
You should also keep in mind that, along with asking for help, sometimes saying ‘no’ is one of the best things you can do to help yourself. Learn when and how to say ‘no’ so you can say ‘yes’ to the things you really need or want.
How Do You Politely Ask for Something?
As we’ve already discussed, choosing the right time to make your request shows the other person that you’re considerate of their time.
To ask for something politely, never take the other person’s help for granted. That means you need to actually ask for help (not order it) and use words like “please.”
Always show gratitude for the other person’s time and help (even if your issue isn’t totally resolved as a result of their efforts).
What Are the Benefits of Asking for Help?
Hopefully it’s clear by now that there’s no shame in asking for help. When you seek help, you don’t have to face whatever the problem is alone. You’ll probably resolve the issue much faster and more efficiently, and you won’t waste all that time wondering what to do.
And if others depend on you for help—be they family, friends, or coworkers—the only way for you to support them is to get help for yourself first. There’s a reason flight attendants instruct you to take care of your own oxygen mask first!
How Can We Help Others?
Because so many people have a hard time asking for help, you may never know they’re struggling. Be on the lookout for signs (like if the person seems distant, detached, lacking energy, or just inexplicably different from their usual self).
Usually, the best thing you can do to help is to lend an ear and be there to listen and support the person. Learn how to show empathy, to show others that you understand and are there for them.
You may not be able to fix all their problems, but just showing solidarity and that you’re there to listen and support them can be extremely powerful.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!