Help!: How You Can Ask for Help When You Need It

Wendy Winn, PT, OCS

“Thanks again for your help!” I chimed cheerfully to the customer service representative. It’s one of those weeks that requires a lot more calls to customer service than I’d like. That Samsung representative was genuinely helpful!

Why is it so hard for people to ask for help?

According to Scientific American, “Adults are often embarrassed about asking for aid. It’s an act that can make people feel vulnerable. The moment you ask for directions, after all, you reveal that you are lost. Seeking assistance can feel like you are broadcasting your incompetence.” In fact, studies have shown that up to 70% of people wait until they absolutely need help to ask for it!

  1. Asking for help is not weakness. Do you believe asking for help is a weakness? Ask yourself why you believe this? Do you judge others when they ask you for help as weak? If not, why judge yourself this way?
  1. Many people are ready and happy to help “When people are in need of help, they are often caught up in their own concerns and worries and do not fully recognize the prosocial motivations of those around them who are ready to help.” Acts of kindness are proven to boost happiness. Many people find fulfillment in helping others.
  1. Consider your relationship with the word “independence” “Western societies tend to value independence, so asking others to go out of their way to do something for us may seem wrong or selfish and may impose a somewhat negative experience on the helper.” states an article from Stanford. Ask yourself why you might value independence so heavily. Many people have deeply held beliefs around independence, and sometimes these can be traced back to childhood experiences.

So, how do you get started asking for help?

  1. Start small: Sometimes, people subconsciously fear rejection and avoid asking for help. By starting small, i.e. asking for a very “low risk” option, you might have confidence to ask for more.
  2. Know what’s getting in the way for you and work with that. Is hyper-independence getting in your way? Unpack that for yourself and understand how you can overcome that barrier.
  3. Ask privately: Studies have shown that asking in front of peers creates shame around being “stupid” or weak, or effectively “less than.” When sought privately, people are more likely to ask for help.

Do not be afraid to ask for help.

Working with and for others does not signal “weakness.” Independence is not a superiority badge. People enjoy helping others.

So, how can I help you?

By Wendy Winn, PT, OCS

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