Posted May 20th, 2021 by Urban Legal Recruitment

Our comfort level around asking for help depends somewhat on culture, but there is no question that in North America, we definitely value our independence. 

Why it’s so hard to ask for help

One of the greatest deterrents we face in asking for help is fear. It can be humiliating and feel like a rejection if someone says ‘no’. We also worry that they’ll think less of us or consider us a burden. 

Loss of control and exposing vulnerability are other common reasons people resist asking for help. Admitting you need something can make you feel weak and needy.

Sometimes we resist asking for help because we minimize our own needs. Nora Bouchard, author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need, says: “There are a lot of people who will say, ‘Oh, it’s not so important for me to ask. I’m not in such a bad place or as bad a place as someone else.’”

How to ask for help

The thing to remember is that most people want to be helpful. 

Heidi Grant, a social psychologist talks about the “illusion of transparency, the mistaken belief that our needs are obvious to other people. So we wait around for people to notice our need and then spontaneously offer to help.” As most of us know, this doesn’t usually happen.

Whether at home or in the workplace, there are ways to make it easier to ask for help, and more likely that you will get it. 

Make it a conversation, not a plea.

Don’t apologize for asking for assistance, and turn it into a dialogue instead of a monologue. “I am challenged with making dinner and getting the kids to their activities and could really use your help. Let’s talk about this and come up with something together.” 

Be clear and specific.

Sometimes our level of discomfort causes us to ramble and over-explain. Communicate your request clearly and concisely. Describe the task specifically and be willing to negotiate based on what help the person is able to provide.

Take a personal approach.

Avoid asking for help over text or email whenever possible. It is easier to ask in writing, but it is also easier to deny your request that way. Research shows that requests made in person are 30 times more successful.  

Don’t make it transactional.

Promising to ‘owe  them one’ or offering to pay a friend or family member for a favour does not increase the likelihood of help and can make it feel awkward. 

Follow up.

While sharing your gratitude goes a long way toward making the giver feel good, it’s even better to follow up and let them know the outcome of their help. This results in people feeling that their actions had an impact. 

How helping helps the helper

  • Being there for someone isn’t just about them and there are definite benefits to the giver.
  • Giving back releases feel-good chemicals on the portion of the brain responsible for feelings of reward, inducing what psychologists refer to as ‘helper’s high. 
  • Helping others, and seeing the benefits, increases feelings of social connectedness and self-esteem.
  • Helping builds trust and results in stronger relationships. 
  • Providing aid to someone instills a deeper sense of purpose and enhances gratitude and optimism.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.” – Barack Obama

Life. Career. Opportunity Awaits. If you have any questions, are considering a change, or just want to chat, we would love to hear from you. 

At Urban Legal Recruitment, we have experienced, along with our clients, the impacts of COVID-19.  We’ve made the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of our team members and our clients.