Next, you need to understand that some common and perhaps intuitive ways of asking for help are ultimately unproductive, because they make people less likely to want to give it. The key to a successful request for help is to shift the focus to these benefits. So the first step is making people aware of your problem. Promise to follow up afterward, and do so. In other words, explore all of the possible solutions—including the obvious ones. Few will think less of you for needing assistance. People are busy, and not all of them have the skills or the resources to help you. Consider the head of product development at a learning software company who wanted more input with the sales department, which was making his team’s work difficult by agreeing that highly customized orders would be delivered according to near-impossible schedules. I didn’t expect them to know everything—yet, somehow, they always seemed to think that I did, and, by consequence, that they shouldn’t ask questions. I once dated a firefighter, and he imparted a piece of wisdom that I keep in mind to this day. He set up a meeting with sales leaders to talk through the product development process, realizing that most of the team had no idea what work was involved. Your request could be rejected. If I can’t figure something out after I’ve exhausted at least three other solutions on my own, it’s time to admit I need a little inspiration. First, know what you want. When you just keep giving and never ask for anything, people would want to reciprocate it. They expect you to come to them, forgetting how reluctant most of us are to ask for help. So how can you effectively ask for help? (3) Effectiveness: Be clear about what you need and about what impact the help will have. The best thing you can do is to come armed with a few potential solutions (even if you have no idea where to start). The helper must believe that you want help. Research on pro-environment appeals suggests, for instance, that liberals prefer phrases such as “care for the natural world” and “prevent the suffering of all life forms,” whereas conservatives respond better to “show your love for your country” and “take responsibility for yourself and the land you call home.”. First things first, you need to determine how you should approach … For example, if a senior management team includes only two women, don’t just say, “We’re the only two women on the team” (emphasizing the trait). When you next find yourself in need of help, remember that people are willing to give it much more often than not. The only way to get your need for support heard is to ask for it. After one of the beneficiaries of their work visited and spoke to them about their impact on his and others’ jobs, the call center’s sales and revenue doubled. When Vanessa Bohns, a professor at Cornell University and a leading researcher in this area, recently reviewed a group of experiments that she and her coauthors had done, she found that compliance—the rate at which people provided assistance to strangers who asked for it—was an average of 48% higher than the help seekers had expected. Before you start banging your shoulder—or head—against a door, make sure you’ve tried to open it the old-fashioned way first. Clearly, people are much more likely to be helpful than we think they are. Solve the problem on your own. Another group of people we often overlook are dormant ties, relationships that we had in the past. Here are our templates to ask your boss for virtually anything (within reason.) If your boss sees you beating yourself up over something, she’s more likely to be thinking, “Why didn’t you come to me sooner?” rather than view you as an industrious and dedicated employee. Asking for help can feel vulnerable. When colleagues provide you with major help at work, lend a hand when you're in a jam, assist with a challenging project, or generally go above-and-beyond what's required, it's a kind gesture to send a letter of appreciation.You can also send a note or email message to a colleague who has covered for you while you were out sick or on leave. It brings out the best—and the best feelings—in all of us. Admitting you need help can be really hard, especially when you’re being paid for your competency. He was describing the procedure of running into a burning house, and I interrupted (wide-eyed, of course) to ask if he had to break the door down to get in. Reinforcements: How to Get People to Help You, Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, No One Understands You and What to Do About It. ... Offer solutions. You can allow people to experience the natural highs associated with helping. And studies show that most people are surprisingly willing to lend a hand—if you ask in the right way. During the conversation, refer back to your priorities list and ask for help in triaging. If I’ve learned anything during this past year at work, it’s this: You can and should ask for help. (2) Positive identity: Create or enhance people’s recognition that they are uniquely placed to provide assistance and that they routinely come to others’ aid. Remember, however, that people don’t all have the same vision of positive identity, so tailor your message. When Vanessa Bohns, a professor at Cornell University and a leading researcher in this area, recently reviewed a group of experiments that she and her coauthors had done, she found that compliance—the rate at which people provided assistance to strangers who asked for it—was an average of 48% higher than the help seekers had expected… … Asking your boss for something—whether it's more flexibility, less work, more support, or (gulp!) Enclosures – Always provide documents, if you have, in … Jennifer Winter is a freelance writer, editor and career consultant. Be honest with yourself. And there is no better way to make someone feel good about himself or herself than to ask for it. I remember staying in the office until well past 1 AM one time, trying to resolve a particularly nasty issue, and although fatigue and frustration had been clouding my mind for hours, I still felt it was important that someone—everyone—knew how hard I was working to solve the problem. Especially at work, we often strive to appear competent and capable, and seeking out help is an admission that we can’t do our jobs alone. What I learned from the experience was that asking for help is a delicate endeavor—but when done right, it’ll get the job done faster or better. When it comes to asking for help at work, some approaches are more fruitful than others, experts say, and what you ask for matters less than the way you ask it. But learning how to ask for help at work is necessary, not only for you to succeed but for you to become a productive member of your team. Perhaps more important, you can also use them in day-to-day interactions to prime the people around you for greater helpfulness. Earn responses to your requests by generously helping others in the first place. A classic error is asking for help via group e-mail. When I explain to people how these strategies work in practice, I often give an example from my personal life, involving an IKEA bookshelf. If possible, also allow people to choose how they help you, and be willing to accept alternatives to your original request. Another is that I’m weirdly good at such projects (owing less to my construction prowess than to my ability to interpret poorly written directions), and for years I’d been her go-to gal for help with them (effectiveness). Perhaps the easiest way to overcome the pain of asking for help is to realize that most people are surprisingly willing to lend a hand. But you can ask for help in a way that avoids these pitfalls and instead gives people agency over their responses, allowing them to experience the natural highs associated with helping. We may be reluctant to ask a dormant tie for help and assistance because we feel that they wouldn’t be receptive. This is particularly true for people in negative moods or positions of relative power over others. The helper must take responsibility for helping. Asking for support … This is an all-too-obvious step that’s often overlooked. My general rule of thumb is basically the "Three Strikes" rule. Employees knew that the revenue they generated supported jobs in another department, with which they’d previously had no contact. Often it’s … A Swiss study published in 2017 found that people who simply pledge to spend even a small amount of money on someone else feel happier than those who plan to indulge only themselves. is the tacit question hovering in most people’s … Emphasizing reciprocity—“I’ll help you if you help me”—can also backfire, because people don’t like to be indebted to anyone or to engage in a purely transactional exchange. He pleaded to be included in discussions with clients but was often ignored; the people in sales believed that he would slow them down and be an obstacle to their success. 1. You might also cite a common goal, enemy, or trait, such as the desire to exceed your team’s sales targets, rivalry with a competitor in your industry, or a love of superhero movies. It won’t always work, but you’ll want to be damn sure you know it doesn’t before your boss tries it herself. But the reality is, we all need help sometimes, and learning to ask for it at work … Keep these tips in mind when you find yourself a little over your head, and you’ll guarantee your manager and colleagues won’t be uttering any four-lettered words when you need their help. Full Information – It is always required to provide all the information related to your issue. There are several ways to do this. 3. Plus, chances are, everyone will gain valuable experience and ultimately strengthen his or her base for a successful career. However, it’s virtually impossible to advance in modern organizations without assistance from others. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School. A second cue for potential helpers involves creating or enhancing their recognition that they are uniquely placed (by virtue of their attributes or role) to provide assistance and that they are not merely people who might help you but helpful people who routinely come to others’ aid. Even if you’re right, you should still ask for help, because doing so helps your employees grow. Copyright © 2020 Harvard Business School Publishing. People want to see the impact of the aid they give. 4. Career advice for women, Best careers for women, Career tips for women Plus, giving your boss a “menu” of options enables her to quickly assess your ideas, and, if needed, come up with a few of her own. It only takes one time for your manager to ask you, “Why didn’t you try X?” to realize how much it pays off to check the simple solutions off your list.I once dated a firefighter, and he imparted a piece of wisdom that I keep in mind to this day. People want to see or know the impact of the aid they will give. By building … As I’ve discovered, asking for assistance can be a powerful tool if you employ it strategically. The first step is getting over your reluctance to ask for assistance. I’m sure some of you reading would have nodded twice! It’s even OK to admit that you can’t, in fact, do it all and do it all well. A request for a colleague’s help isn’t a drive-thru task. Finally, you must learn the subtle cues that motivate people to support you and how to deliver them in the right way. Clift... Stay engaged with your helpers. If you are given a work to complete and from the very onset if you start asking for help, then it will show your incompetency, but when you ask for help at work after completing a major part of the work, then it will prove that you know your job well, … June 27, 2018 / by Rohina Tags: help, help at work. Determine Your Method. One reinforcement you’ll want to give a potential helper is assurance that you’re on his or her team and that the team is important. You want people to feel that they would be helping because they want to, not because they must, and that they’re in control of the decision. It wasn’t until I had a team of my own to manage that I realized that there’s real value in admitting “Hey! Now, nod again if you’ve ever felt shy or silly when doing so. Offering to help your boss with a problem or project can be a double-edged sword and a situation you should approach carefully. How can you impose upon people without making them feel imposed upon? But you can make any request seem more manageable by being explicit and detailed about what you are asking for, keeping the request reasonable, and staying open to receiving help that is different from what you asked for. That’s by using what I call reinforcements, or cues, which you can incorporate in specific requests. So why was the DIY request an easy yes? The trick here is knowing when it’s time to suck it up, swallow your pride, and admit you’re stuck. Nod your head if you’ve ever had to ask for help at work, at home or anywhere else. Just make sure you’re genuine when you make the request. Not anymore! This isn’t an ego thing. For example, studies have shown that people contribute more to charity when asked if they would like to “be a generous donor” (versus “to donate”) and that children as young as three are more motivated to complete tasks such as cleaning up blocks when told they can “be a helper” (versus “can help”). When you encounter a roadblock, try to get around it yourself before reaching out. Your input really helped my previous pitch to ABC succeed.”. 3. All rights reserved. About a year ago, a friend from graduate school asked me to help her assemble a particularly complicated one, and—this might surprise you—I eagerly agreed. Few of us enjoy asking for help. People are surprisingly willing to give support—if you ask for it in the right way. 2. Why should I care? Of course, all parties felt they were doing what was best for the company, but in their own ways. Your employer might be grateful for your offer of assistance, or she might take it as a sign you think she is not capable of doing her work. Asking for help can show strength rather than weakness. While there’s definitely something to be said about trying to resolve an issue yourself first, torturing yourself for hours—or days—before finally admitting you need help is almost never productive. But it’s also because most helpers know—even if only subconsciously—that giving freely and effectively of themselves has emotional benefits. He responded, “Try first, then pry.” He went on to describe how—in what I imagine must be part of some hazing ritual—the crew let him throw his shoulder at a door for what seemed like an eternity before someone simply turned the doorknob to open it. Now, when you know you need to ask for help, don’t just go knocking on your manager’s door to surrender. Sometimes people fail to offer help not because they don’t see the need but because they’re worried that they’ve misconstrued the situation or that you prefer to go it alone. One of the biggest obstacles to helping is diffusion of responsibility. Asking for help is not the same as commiserating with your coworkers. This isn’t an ego thing. Asking for help can be a challenge, even outside of a pandemic. The first step to asking for help is to make sure you actually need it. Studies also suggest that we underestimate how much effort those who do agree to help will put in. He began to emphasize in every interaction that they all shared the goal of pleasing the customer to ensure repeat business, creating a strong sense of in-group with the sales team. That same morning, I’d turned down a request to review a submission to a scientific journal, ignored an e-mail from my daughter’s school asking for parent volunteers to help with an ice cream party, and grudgingly said I would do our family’s laundry but refused to fold it. If you approach it cannily it shows that you are striving for the highest quality and … In other words, they didn’t understand why their help was needed. If you’ve got the leverage of being a hi-po, use it. Dear [Your Supervisor/Boss’s Name], These are sneaky tactics and should be … The best way to reduce work-related stress is to ask for help from your co-workers. You want helpers to give what they can—and what will make them feel most effective. This not only shows that you’ve thought through the issue on your own first, but also that you’re not asking for a handout—you’re trying to get the job done together. To ensure that your potential helpers know that their assistance will matter, be very clear about what you need and its projected impact. Eventually, the frustrated executive decided to take a fresh approach to getting the cooperation he needed from his colleagues. Use the "foot-in-the-door" or the "door-in-the-face." A recent study by the productivity software company Boomerang of 350,000 e-mail exchanges found that “Thanks in advance” and “Thanks” yielded average response rates from 63% to 66%, compared with 51% to 54% for other popular options including “Best,” “Regards,” and “Cheers.” Even expressed preemptively, gratitude can keep people interested and invested in helping you, as long as you focus more on their generosity and selflessness—and what that says about them as people—than on how you’ll benefit from the help. How to Ask for Help at Work Take an objective approach. One reason is that the person asking was a long-standing friend with whom I enjoy spending time (in-group reinforcement). But the best way to create a strong sense of in-group is to highlight shared experiences, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. This taps into the innate human need to belong to—and ensure the well-being of—supportive social circles. I’ve seen employees become discouraged and frustrated when I’ve done work … The helper must be able to provide what you need. If you ask your co-worker a … Hence, be both — a giver and a taker at the same time. You are always so helpful and generous” (positive identity). That’s in part because saying no or helping only halfheartedly carries a psychological cost that we tend to discount. Many psychologists believe that feeling effective—knowing that your actions created the results you intended—is the fundamental human motivation; it’s what truly engages people and gives their lives meaning. We may also worry about imposing on our coworkers if they say yes, and feeling awkward if they say no. But, it’s … When You Made a Mistake. To ask for help at work and lend the same is very quintessential key for success at workplace. With this approach, you’ll effectively turn what could’ve been a cry for help into a collaborative session with a senior member of your team—and that’s always a good thing. The biggest obstacles to helping is diffusion of responsibility, perceptions, thoughts, and do all! Explore all of the aid they will give to—and ensure the well-being of—supportive social circles thoughts, and feelings center. Experiences, perceptions, thoughts, and he imparted a piece of wisdom that I keep in mind to day. Subtle cues that motivate people to choose how they help you, and become for... Company saw increases in both client satisfaction and profitability you reading would nodded... S normal to feel overwhelmed,... 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