Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Asking for Help at Work

Source: Needpix.com
Many people refrain from asking for needed assistance at work.  Why?  They do not want to appear incompetent, or perhaps they do not want to admit failure.  Sometimes, we don't ask for help because we don't want to burden others.  Cornell Professor Vanessa K. Bohns wrote about the issue this week in Harvard Business Review.   She argues that many people hold beliefs that prevent them from asking for help, yet these beliefs turn out to be misguided.  Here are Bohns' three myths about asking for help.  In each case, she cites research demonstrating that these beliefs are indeed myths, not reality.  

Myth 1: Asking for Help Makes You Look Bad
Myth 2: If I Do Ask for Help, I’ll Be Rejected
Myth 3: Even if Someone Agrees to Help, They Won’t Enjoy Doing So

While I agree that people ought to reconsider the reasons why they might be hesitant to ask for help, I do think workers should contemplate HOW they ask for help as well.   Sometimes, reaching out can be done in a highly ineffective manner.   Here are a few tips.  First, be clear about what you are trying to accomplish and why.   Second, explain what you have already done.  What have you tried?  What's worked? What hasn't?   Third, describe how you think the person may be of assistance.  What expertise or skills do they have that might be helpful?  Finally, be sure to encourage them to identify others who might be better suited to assist.  Don't make them feel bad about acknowledging their own limitations.   Of course, be sure to thank them in advance for their help as well!  

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