Asking for help is not as easy as it sounds. Having to ask someone to help you can feel like it indicates vulnerability, and being unable to cope by yourself. However, no man is an island and looking for help is to open yourself up to the support of people around you.
Here are some of the reasons why we may find it hard to ask for help, and how to overcome these barriers.
1. Fear of rejection
One of the biggest reasons why we avoid asking for help when we need it is fear of rejection.
- What if you expose yourself to needing support, and then don’t get it?
- Will people consider you incapable, and tell you that you’ll just have to figure it out by yourself?
- How will you find a plan B if you did ask for help, and were turned down?
This fear is often unfounded, and most of us are happy to be asked to help somebody out.
Everybody – without exception – needs support at some point in their lives. It is rewarding to feel that you have the skills or resources to offer somebody assistance and to know they trust and respect you enough to turn to you for help.
What’s the worst that could happen?
You ask someone for help, and the person says no. That does not have to be a big deal and is not necessarily any reflection on you. Perhaps that person didn’t feel able to help you with this particular problem? It may be that they didn’t feel confident that they had the right knowledge to give you the help you need.
In any case, somebody saying no is just a bump in the road on the way to finding somebody who will say yes. Keep your head held high, and be proud that you dared to ask for help in the first place.
This is another big reason why some of us struggle to seek assistance. We all like to be considered strong and capable, and looking for help is an admission that this isn’t always the case.
- Will people think you are weak or inexperienced if you ask for help?
- Does it reflect badly on you that you can’t manage everything alone?
I think that asking for help is far braver than to muddle through, knowing that you don’t know all the answers.
What can you do to stop feeling vulnerable?
The answer is – you can’t, nor should you.
Smart people all know that nobody knows everything, and we all experience learning curves during our journeys through life. Asking for help is an admission that you do not know everything, and allows you to be open to receiving the benefit of others’ knowledge and wisdom to help guide you on the right path.
Feeling vulnerable can be challenging for a lot of people. However, admitting that you need help is far better than ignoring the wealth of knowledge surrounding you.
3. Lack of control
One common fear, and a reluctance to ask for help, stems from a concern that by asking for help you surrender control.
This is most common in the workplace, where asking a colleague for help might be perceived as not being able to cope, in which case you fear you might lose the project you have been working on.
Keeping control when asking for help
The ironic thing is, that when people offer their assistance, they almost always do so to help. Very few people will see being asked to help as an opportunity to take over, and even fewer would want to do so.
Your challenges are yours, and taking ownership of them responsibly can mean the need to seek help to make sure you reach as successful a conclusion as possible.
Being open to growth is all about learning, so surrender your anxiety and go ahead and ask for help. Everything is as under control as you make it.
4. Looking incapable
To have to ask for help means you don’t have the answers. That makes you look unskilled and inept, right? That is completely wrong.
It is common to worry that asking for help shows up your lack of experience, or makes you look unknowledgeable. This could not be further from the truth. Asking for help quantifies your faith in the knowledge of others around you, and that we can all collectively work better together than we do in isolation.
How to take back your courage
Know that all skilled managers recognize the importance of collaborative work. Seeking help acknowledges that you can benefit from the thought processes of others and that you appreciate their insights.
It is not an admission of ineptitude, but rather is an educated decision to seek assistance to reach the most positive solution to the challenge you are facing.
Asking for help in the right way
The biggest factor in looking for help is choosing carefully who you ask. Trusted friends, colleagues and family members will never reject a genuine request for support and will be happy to share their understanding and advice with you.
How you ask for it is as important as who you ask. Remember that you are seeking assistance, and be sure to ask promptly; even the most willing of friends might find it difficult to give you the help you need without any notice. If you ask politely, provide enough information, and give some notice to be able to think through your request, you will receive the help you ask for.
Remember that asking for help is to grow and expand your knowledge. This is never a bad thing.
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