5 Ways to Get Better at Asking for Help
Knowing when and how to ask for help produces better results
Asking for a hand can lead you to make better decisions, improve your thinking and produce better results. So why don't we do it more? It's common to fall into the mentality that it's easier to do something ourselves or let our ego and pride convince us that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Although it's important to have conviction, my career has shown me that it is even more important to seek help. That's why I'm sharing five tips I like to keep in mind when asking for help.
1. Do your research first
Asking for help requires you to be vulnerable. You are admitting that you don't have all the answers, which might cause you to feel unworthy or embarrassed.
Conducting research before asking questions can help ease your mind. Research can confirm that the answers to your questions are not easily accessible and make you feel more validated in what you're asking.
Doing the necessary research first also serves as a great reminder to be mindful with your questions. Although you should feel empowered to ask for help, you need to balance that with taking initiative and making decisions.
2. Be humble
Egos can get in the way of producing our best work. Once you recognize the strength in teamwork and collaboration, you will be able to deliver better results.
Humility allows for evolution, growth and makes you a better leader. Instead of limiting yourself and your company to your own ideas, you welcome and encourage new ways of thinking that can contribute to the growth of the business. You should be open to learning from anyone — ask teammates with greater seniority while also seeking input from those who have less time on the job. When debating on asking for assistance, I find it helpful to remind myself that what I'm working towards is bigger than me.
3. Understand the problem
Make sure you have a clear understanding of your needs and identify the goal or objective you are working to achieve before looping in others. As you dig deeper, be sure to pinpoint the exact areas you need help with.
A more precise understanding of the problem you're working to solve will help you develop the right questions to ask. This will also help in better identifying who the right person to ask for help is as a deeper understanding of the problem allows you to take into consideration others' areas of expertise. Asking the right people the right questions will result in a more productive exchange.
4. Ask open-ended questions
Open-ended questions make room for bold and creative thinking. Asking questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" places limitations on what the response will be. Instead, your questions should provoke deep thinking and conversation.
I like to ask, "What do you think our approach should be?" rather than, "Do you agree with this particular approach?" because it will evoke a more thoughtful response. Open-ended questions can take conversations to places you weren't necessarily expecting, which is a good thing. If you've already thought about everything on your own, there wouldn't be any need for help.
5. Don't seek a specific answer
By asking for help, you are acknowledging that you would benefit from someone else's input. Seeking a specific answer would be contradictory. It's simple: Asking for help is only helpful when you are willing to listen.
Maybe you find yourself disagreeing with a response. That is natural and to be expected from time to time, but it is important that you give actual thought and consideration to others' opinions. I've found that being open-minded and receptive clears the path to innovation and growth.
If you are already set on an answer, there is no reason to ask in the first place. As you work to learn how to best ask for help, you must also learn to value, appreciate and accept that extra hand. The combination of knowing how to ask for and receiving help is what will lead you to success.
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