Learn to Ask for Help

Everyday we neeoverwhelmed-by-paperworkd help from someone, it’s only natural. And yet, somewhere along the line, we’ve gotten the idea that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Not reaching out will cause personal and professional pressure to mount up to a degree where failure and burn-out will be inevitable. The challenge is to determine what is a legitimate “help” situation, and what is being “needy.”
Don’t Be A Martyr
We’ve all been around the workplace martyr. This is the person that overextends, refuses to ask for help, and then makes sure everyone is aware of his or her sacrifice. There are a number of reasons why some lean towards martyrdom. A common factor is low self-esteem. Some feel so undeserving that they accept virtually any job conditions or tasks, no matter how unreasonable they are or how much work interferes with their personal lives.
Another explanation involves martyrs’ exaggerated sense of duty. There is an underlying agenda to prove their worth through excessive self-sacrifice. Or, one may behave like a martyr out of fear and anxiety. Whatever the cause, workplace martyrs can be expected to do more harm than good. A colleague who has no boundaries makes life harder for those who do.
Leaders who point to the martyr as a role model, can create a demoralizing and demeaning environment for colleagues with a healthier approach.
You can avoid martyrdom by:
=taking responsibility for your choices
=setting effective boundaries
=not expecting to be rewarded for your “suffering”
=not blaming, justifying, and complaining
=being open to personal behavioral change
=asking for help
Using the “Help” Button
Organize and Create Context
Make it easy for people to help you. Frame the situation and issues clearly and concisely before reaching out to your leader, peer, or colleague.
Identify Risks
Gain a balanced understanding of the implications of not addressing the situation. But beware of crying “wolf” (Google: The Boy Who Cried Wolf) or you won’t be taken seriously.
Be Prepared
Form and frame your key questions for help ahead of time. If you deliver the context and risks and conclude with, “I don’t know what to do” you are making the issue someone else’s problem. Provide your best solutions.
Learn Your Leader’s Help Style
Most leaders are happy to offer help if you approach them properly. Study your leader’s preferences when it comes to guiding others. Some want to hear all of the details, others want a big picture assessment along with risks and recommendations. When in doubt, simply ask your leader what their preference is.
Don’t Forget Your Peers and Advisory Board
We should all be investing time cultivating a group of trusted advisors and peers that will provide feedback and support. This takes a fair amount of discernment and discretion, however the dividends are will payoff tenfold.
Tap Into Your Team
If you do not have the humility to ask for help, you are likely missing a huge resource: your colleagues. Wanting to appear all-knowing will get in the way of taking advantage of the resources that are probably closest to the issue. An added bonus? The act of asking and then listening to your team members will do wonders for your credibility.

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