Are You Limiting Yourself by Not Asking for Help?

Do you ask for help when you need it? Do you wait to ask for help until the very last minute? Or, does perfectionism prevent you from relying on others? Maybe asking for help makes you uncomfortable because you don’t want to ‘burden’ someone else. Or maybe, you’re worried that they will say ‘no.’ Asking for help can make us feel vulnerable, as it feels like an admission that we can’t do something alone. As a result, many of us are reluctant to ask for help or even refuse to ask for help.

Being reluctant to ask for help can be especially true at work when we all want to appear competent and capable. Even if you are an individual contributor or the only person on your team or in your function, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything all by yourself. Great leaders know how to delegate and capitalize on opportunities to collaborate. After all, what’s a great leader without a great team?

Here Are a Few Ways to Practice Asking for Help:

  • Start Small: If asking for help is uncomfortable for you, start with a daily exercise to help you practice. Ask someone at a store to help you find and item, ask a friend to give you advice on a problem, or ask a stranger for directions. Get used to asking for help on the small stuff, so it’s easier when you need help with something bigger.
  • Recognize the Need: Identify challenges in your life where you could use a little help. Maybe you’re struggling with a task and would benefit from a colleague’s expertise. Maybe you’re experiencing tension with a friend and need advice on how to resolve it. Maybe you have been in a rut with your workout routine and you could use some support from your spouse.
  • Choose the Time Wisely: Timing is key to set you up for success. Schedule a time to meet rather than barging in to talk about the issue (they could misread your plea for help as venting). Instead, approach them when they are prepared to listen, and they will likely be more willing to help you.
  • How to Ask: Demonstrate how you have already tried to handle the problem. Be clear about what you need and when you need it. Give your battle buddy some options you’re thinking about, and you can turn your quest for help into a collaborative session with a co-worker.
  • Just do it: The research shows that people underestimate the chance of a positive response when asking for help by up to 50%. In other words, a yes is much more likely than we think.
  • Be Receptive: Make it easy to ask for help by creating a culture of support at work and home. Help others or ask if others need help to make helping the norm.

If you’re a giver but don’t ask for help, remember that people want to reciprocate. And as a leader, make asking for and giving help a regular practice.


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