In my leadership program we’ve all been given the challenge of asking for help in the two months between retreats — to stretch out of our comfort zones and ask for assistance in situations where we might not normally be inclined to do that. And also to notice how we feel about asking for help as we do this.
One of the things I’ve discovered is that I’m terrible at asking for help. Interestingly, so are many of the other people in the class. And the reasons are all strikingly similar…
We are having trouble asking for help because we don’t want to seem weak or vulnerable. We have pride in our competence, we don’t want to admit that we might need help. We’ve been taught to be independent and that there is shame in being needy. We don’t want to be a bother to others or we believe ourselves unworthy of being helped by others. We don’t want to take their valuable time or think we might be asking for too much. We may worry about rejection. We hire help, but we often won’t ask for it from the people closest to us. And sometimes we just don’t know what to ask for.
A 2008 study found that people routinely underestimate by 50% others’ willingness to help them. In short, people are more likely to say yes to requests for assistance than we think they are.
I’m trying to remember that asking for help can be good for me and for the person I’m asking. Asking for help creates connections and broadens possibilities. I might learn something completely new or experience a new perspective. And asking for help gets easier with practice.
I’d welcome your thoughts on asking for help… it is easy or hard for you and why? Do you have any good resources on asking for help?