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5 Ways To Ask For Help

Dr. Nikki Martinez, Lead Contributor

Being a Psychologist, I know how many people waited to come to therapy, as they did not want to ask for help. They convinced themselves that they should have been able to work out all of their issues without the aid of anyone, when the fact of the matter is that we all need help at times, myself included, and the strongest thing that we can do is ask for the assistance that we need.

Learning to be able to ask for this help can be a very difficult skill to master. Whether it is pride, embarrassment, or just a lack of skill set, it can be an extremely difficult skill to learn, but it can be accomplished, and it will get earlier with practice. If you take away the shame that you have associated with asking for help, it becomes much easier and more productive than we ever dreamed it would be. We may even be surprised at how glad and willing people are to help.

How do you ask for help?

1. Admitting that we need help is the hardest step many times.

However, we have to admit that we need help, both to ourselves and to others that we are asking the assistance from. We have to ask ourselves the tough questions: Can I do this by myself, what parts do I need help with, what is outside of my area of expertise, but is in someone I work with. How much can I give up, can I prevent myself from micromanaging the help I am asking for, and can I be grateful and gracious for the help I receive, even if it was not exactly as I would have done it.

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2. Make a list of what needs to be accomplished, and make sure that you break things down into small and manageable steps that can be easily spread around you and others.

When you break things down in this way, they do not seem so overwhelming to you, and they also don’t feel like as much a burden to ask someone to help you with.

Further, the person that you have asked for help will not only be impressed that you are so well organized, but they will be grateful that you are only asking them to complete one piece of the puzzle, and it is clear what that piece is.

3. Make sure that you are matching the request for help with a task that is fitting to this individual’s personal strength.

You do want to be sure that you are not giving them a task that they have no experience with, as the point of asking for help is not to make them feel inept, it is to make them feel honored that you see this strength and skill in them, and that you are asking for their help because you appreciate their skill and expertise. This not only helps you to finish the task at hand, but it has the added bonus of making the other person feel honored and appreciated.

4. Many times you want to go somewhere else to talk, a brief walk, for example, to ask the person if they are ready and willing to help you.

It can feel awkward, and as if they do not have a chance to say “no” if it is done in an open office environment with others around. You want to give them the respect to have a choice in the answer.

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While they are almost assuredly going to say “yes,” you want to show them from the start that you have the respect enough to allow them the opportunity to make whatever decision they need to, away from others, and that you support whatever decision they make.

Occasionally, people will need to tell you “no,” and you need to learn that this is not a rejection of you, but rather a matter of what they have on their own plate right now.

5. Thank the person that is helping you every step of the way.

Learn to be gracious and appreciative. They are doing something that they do not have to be doing, and they are taking extra time out of their schedule and their lives to help you finish your project, and help you be successful.

It is very important to be providing gratitude, and positive reinforcement along the way, in order to keep the person motivated and to let them know that everything they are doing for you is noticed and appreciated. This helps the person know that they are respected, appreciated, and that you never lose your gratitude.

At the end of the project, make sure that you have thought of some small token to thank them, and to truly show how much you have appreciated the extra time and effort they have put in to help you.

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