Everyone benefits from an occasional boost. Despite that, even when bogged down many are too timid to ask. Here are 12 suggestions to effectively engage the help of others:
1. Stop worrying about “how it looks” to ask for help. The guts to ask shows a confident self-image, not a weak one. A far bigger crime is pretending we know what we’re doing when we do not. Inefficiency is unmasked —and inefficiency hurts our office image far more than reaching out for support.
2. Don’t worry about not knowing something. All jobs come with a barrel of stuff we need to know and much of it is learned over time. People who’ve been there longer than you probably know more; and people who came on board after you probably know less. It is quite normal not to know everything. No one does. The weakness is pretending to.
3. Know what to ask for. Gaining clarity when uncertain in direction is good. Strategy brainstorming is always helpful. Asking someone to check key elements of your work is smart.
But asking someone to do your work is bad.
If you’ve already done the work, seeking a second opinion is never perceived negatively. Often it is the opposite: people are flattered. If their coaching can help you polish specific elements of your work, be grateful for having the supportive resource. What you owe them in return is clarity around the specifics and boundaries of the help you seek.
4. Know how to ask. Be specific, not vague, about the type of help you want.
For example, “Could you be kind enough to review these financial tables and supportive graphs for content and clarity?”
This gives the helper specific instructions about what he or she should look for. Don’t ask for general help.
“Could you look this over?” doesn’t give much guidance. Ask for what you want in specific, unambiguous terms.
5. Convey a confidence that says you’ve got things under control – and are not rudderless.
Explain your objective, how you approached the attainment of that objective, and ask for a second set of eyes to examine specifics. Never ask if you haven’t done anything. No one wants to be a first set of eyes, interrupted to explain what to do. Come across as capable, competent, and open to coaching. You never not want to land on a co-worker as clueless or lazy.
6. Don’t fear asking. If someone is too busy, he or she will tell you. But there is an adage in business that’s quite true: “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”
High output individuals are achievement oriented. They love to get things done and, if asked, typically find or make time to help.
7. Asking for help is good because help feeds the ego. Helping others helps people feel good about themselves. What people despise is being taken advantage of.
Never “performance punish” someone by making him or her do your work. You do your work. Then ask them to coach you through possible improvements and teach as they go.
Helping also feeds the ego for another reason — it enables others to “show off” their talents and skills.
8. Be complimentary in your approach — but not patronizing. Too many are timid or bashful. Don’t be. Instead be upbeat and sincere. Preface your ask by explaining why you are coming to that particular man or woman. If you admire a specific attribute of their work, tell them. But don’t overdo it. Receiving a sincere compliments is always a pleasure. Patronizing remarks that overdo it reek of insincerity – a real turnoff.
9. Let them know how much time you think help will realistically take – and respect that time commitment as a bond between you and your helper. Quantify your needs and, if granted, protect the integrity of that time commitment.
For example, “Could you carve out ten minutes to look through this and share your thoughts on how I could punch up the visuals a bit? Especially [their area of excellence].”
When possible, get help on specific things and not the entire body of work. If you need an entire body of work reviewed, flex to their schedule — not yours.
10. Park your ego. When I write a book or a screenplay, my name is on the title page. But it takes a team to produce a finished either, so I work with editors and a screenwriting coach. Readers of finished output don’t care who helped me. What they care about is how good the work is and whose name is on it.
Solo nobility is admirable but rarely produces work as good as that polished by professional resources who’ve combined to make something as good as possible.
11. No stinkin’ thinkin’. Do not belittle or demean yourself. Never! If you’re really trying and want help, there’s nothing wrong with saying you need fresh eyes willing to coach you through areas you think need to be punched up. Humility is fine but never behavior label yourself in a demeaning or self-deprecating manner.
12. Express gratitude and say “Thank you!” Sincere thank yous — formal or informal — aren’t just polite; they are wonderful gateways to stronger working relationships and better friendships.
Teamwork creates better work, which drives championship cultures. If you need help, never be afraid to ask — in a frank and fear-free manner.
Leave a Reply