The topic of ‘how to ask for help’
has been sitting on my desktop
for a week. In one of the workshops
we do, we pose one of the exercises
as an ambiguous question. The
purpose is to form in peoples’ minds
that you can’t be doing the wrong
task, or go off in the wrong direction,
or not do anything for lack of clarity.
You need to be an effective listener.
You need to ask for clarification and
restate the request in your own words.
Time is a significant resource that
should not be wasted.
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE HELP
Help comes in several forms. It comes
from helping answer simple, one-time
how to fill out this form, to
what what should I do when…., to
what things should I think about before
Information from these come from
technical advisers and coaches. It
is like having “your personal Google
It comes for helping sort out more
complicated matters. Fit with the problem,
good listening skills, experience in offering
advice and sometimes a unique or different
perspective can be useful in the people
Each one of us does not have to deal with
these problems alone. In fact, other people
may have faced similar ones themselves
and can offer canny thoughts, even advice.
Realize, though, that collaborating with some-
one may be a better way of overcoming the
Then, of course, there are mentors. Mentors,
with whom one can develop a relationship
between like-minded friends or peers,
involve honing a relationship in a process.
The process requires a commitment that
both parties should understand. Both
parties should want to partake and obtain
personal benefit and satisfaction.
So, when and how do we ask for help?
Think your problem, through. Pose:
will this lead to frustration or worse?
will this lead to a situation not easy to
will a slower response done well be
better than a fast response, needed to be
repeated? Can I short-circuit the repeat
what are the consequences of a down-
- Asking is a good practice.
More often than not, being asked by
someone for help is a high form of
compliment that they know how to
do things and can be of use and value.
Less common, at least among
adult professionals, is feeling any less
for someone asking for help. Unless
it happens very frequently and can be
avoided, of course.
- Game plans
Create an information game plan and
an action game plan.
What is the big picture?
What exactly do you believe you need
What kind of help do you need?
When you obtain the help, what and
when will you implement?
How do you plan to complete the
information loop that the help was
useful or not?
Professionals are unashamed to seek
help. They find that communicates
value, know-how and respect. It
opens lines of communications and
leads to beneficial outcomes for all
involved when the cycle is done
ethically and with the right intent.