How to Ask for Help at Work

Stacking BlocksHave you ever seen a young kid struggle to build up a tower of blocks only to have them fall at the same point every time?

He seems to think if he can just find the right angle or go slower he'll get past his previous height. Only to get more and more frustrated. He looks at you with tears in his eyes that says, “You better help me right now or I’m going to have a melt down!”

So you go over to him and begin to show him his different options he has. You show him how he could build a wider foundation.

He gets it. The pressure eases off of him. He’s happy again and pick up the next block to start all over again. This time you stay with him and help him through the process.

That’s the beauty of asking someone for help. The hard part is being willing to step back before the frustration before your mind explodes, setting aside your ego and asking for help.

If you can ask for help in the right way you can actually build a stronger relationship and improve their happiness.

My Story

Asking for help isn’t easy. I’m a prime example of this. I was laid off from my fulltime marketing job and I was happy, but very scared. When I was let go I thrust myself into building up my business.

I’ve always wanted to take care of everything from A – Z to make sure it’s done right.

In the process of trying to do it all I realized I was neglecting Work Happy Now, a passion of mine for over four years. I convinced myself to just forget about Work Happy Now because I needed to make money for my family.

The old adage goes, “Help people make money and you will make money.”

I know that I’m a savvy marketer, so I’ve been helping amazing thought leaders connect with their audience through social media and sell products. It’s been a wild ride so far, but work happiness is always pulling on my heart strings. I get at least an email every week about someone who struggles with their job and doesn’t know what to do next.

After talking with a friend I decided to ask the community of Work Happy Now if they would be willing to help me bring the love back.

I got 23 people who volunteered to help me. 23! I was amazed and so excited. I didn’t expect that type of reaction. I thought 1-2 people would be interested.

I never thought to ask for help until my friend convinced me to give it a try. Work Happy Now will be coming back to life and is about to get stronger than ever.

All because I asked for help.

There are some steps and rules to asking for help.

3 Steps Before You Ask for Help:

1. Make sure you Google the problem and see if there is a solution out there on the web.

Before you ask for help you have to do the research to make sure you can’t do it yourself. No one likes to be asked questions that can be found on the web on in a book, especially when they are busy with their own work.

You can find a lot of information on the internet, so make sure you do your due diligence before you ask for help. Not all of it’s good or exact, so be careful and find sources that you know you can trust.

I’ve learned meditation techniques from some very good books and websites, but it wasn’t until I went to a meditation studio that everything began to click for me. Talking with people who have built up a meditation practice helped me understand certain ideas that I couldn’t find else where.

2. Give the problem your full effort.

I’ve had people come up to me and ask for help and I know they were just being lazy. Oh, this bugged me. They just wanted me to do the work.

You have to put in your full effort otherwise people aren’t going to want to help you. People are amazing and willing to drop everything to lend a hand if they know you truly tried your best and still need their help.

3. Let the problem settle then figure out who is the best person to ask for help.

Now that you’ve exhausted all your options. Take a step back, let the dust clear and see if you might be missing an obvious solution. If not then begin to figure out who would be the best person to ask for help.

Make sure that you ask the right person. Many times I’ve gone to the wrong person at work because I was all frustrated and not thinking clearly.

By taking a step back you can process your emotions and make a clear decision on who would be the best person to help you.

5 Rules to Asking for Help:

1. Put your ego aside

Your ego usually wants to figure out a solution on your own or gives up too quickly. Either way you need to let go of your ego. You have to trust that you have picked the right person to help you.

That means going to them with an open heart and the willingness to do something that you might not quite agree with.

2. Find a person who you believe has expertise that you don’t have.

You have to find someone that thinks differently then you. Many people make the mistake of going to someone similar to them because they have the same values.

You have to find someone that can see the situation from a different angle. I like to go to a Maven type. A maven is usually great with details and has a personality that loves to dig into a problem. Since I’m a Connector type I find that the Maven’s superpowers help me find a fresh solution. Check out Charlie’s post over at Productive Flourishing. He explains the 3 main types of people in business. You should notice that one of these personalities fits your own.

3. Frame your question in a way that compliments them and shows that you are humble.

When you go to someone for help, you can’t think of it as a weakness on your part. You have to think of it as a compliment to the person you are asking for help.

You must ask them for help in a way that compliments them and shows you are ready and willing to use their suggestion.

People love being asked for help. It shows that you value their opinion and judgment. That’s one of the biggest compliments that anyone can bestow on a colleague

4. Watch and Learn

You must think of this as a learning opportunity. Every time someone helps you it’s a chance to learn about their superpower for future needs and develop yourself as a leader.

Watch how they think through the problem. Do they take a bird’s eye view? Do they dig in and break apart all the different scenarios? There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained. Don’t let your ego get in the way of growth.

5. Give tons of gratitude to your helper

Everyone wants to feel appreciated. It truly is one of the most underused leadership tools in the working world.

So look at your colleague and let them know how much you appreciate them. The more detailed the better. If you can compliment how they came to the solution it shows how you were paying attention and how much you care.

Your Turn

What techniques do you use when you are asking for help?

* You may want to sign up for our Work Happy Now email e-course that takes you step by step through the process of finding your superpowers and finding/creating more fulfilling work.

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