Asking for help at work is easy, right?
Easy, that is, if you know exactly what you want, of whom, and you know that the answer will be an unequivocal YES.
But for most of us, asking for help at work gets hard.
We might feel overwhelmed and not know exactly what to ask, or who. We may be frustrated that help isn’t magically appearing from our colleagues or leaders.
Or, we might feel discouraged that we need the help in the first place. I mean, we’re smart, right? Why can’t we figure this out on our own???
You ARE smart. And like most smart people, you probably wait waaaaaaay to long to ask for help at work or in deciding what’s next in your career. But why?
Here are three mistaken beliefs that may be preventing you from asking for help at work.
Why You’re Not Asking For Help At Work
Belief #1: “I should be able to figure this out on my own.”
Why? Because you’re used to being the smartest person in the room?
There’s no doubt you’re smart, but let’s face facts.
None of us are smart about everything, always. And the smart person knows there are other smarter people out there. Or people who have already had the experience that you’re facing. Or who know the people you need to know.
So stop criticizing yourself to think you should have all the answers. The world is simply too big to assume we can figure things out alone.
Belief #2: “I’m sure the answer is online somewhere.”
Yes, possibly the perfect rainbow unicorn of an answer will appear online.
Right after you do twelve searches, changing your search terms each time, and still coming up with squat.
Sure, there’s lots of info out there to help with work and career challenges (including right here in our own Free Tools library). But if you haven’t found it in a few minutes of search, you’re wasting your time.
I’m serious. Set a timer for five minutes. Then open up the Googler and go.
If in that five minutes the things you found don’t give you relief, a plan, or the answers, then let go of the myth that you’ll find the answer online.
The web is a great discovery tool for answers to very specific, tangible problems that have clear solutions that work for everyone, every time.
But many of our challenges at work are NOT specific and tangible. And what works for one person does not always work for another.
(There’s also a lot of garbage out there on career & success issues created to drive eyeballs to ads but written by people who’ve barely had a career nor much success. I know–I get pitched by them all the time to write articles for us here at RedCapeRevolution.com. But I say no, because I’m committed to bringing you only the good stuff.)
So use your online resources, but don’t assume an unknown, faceless online article is going to give you the help you need.
Belief #3: “I don’t want to bother anyone–everyone’s busy.”
If you believe this myth, you’re thinking about work upside-down.
Because most of the world of work is based on people “bothering” other people.
(Or, when it’s done right, it’s called “serving.”)
Is helping people a bother to people who have help to give? What if, by giving them an opportunity to help you, they get to feel like they’re being of service?
Maybe helping you will be the most rewarding thing they do all day.
Who are you to deny them that opportunity?
Plus, remember that the people you’re asking for help at work are also adults. That implies they can make their own decisions about where they spend their time and energy. They have the power of saying “no” or “not now.”
Really worried about other people’s time? Then hire a professional in the field as your coach or mentor. Our time is always better spent with you.
(Don’t think you have the time or money? Believe me, getting professional advice is a lot faster and a LOT less expensive than wasting the days of your life feeling bored, confused, angry or worse.)
So . . . what are the magic words to ask for help?
Go to someone you trust. Maybe they’re inside your organization; maybe they’re outside–a former colleague or even a professional coach like me.
Here’s what you say:
- “Hey, I think I need some help. Can I pick your brain for a few minutes to help me figure out what step I need to take next?”
Why this works:
- Doesn’t require any long-term obligation;
- Gives a specific time commitment;
- Doesn’t require finding THE PERFECT person–just start with the person who’s right in front of you that you trust;
- Helps you articulate how you’re stuck, and what help you might need; and
- Allows you to be a bumblebee if needed–you don’t have to stick only with ideas from this person, but rather can suck the brainhoney from a number of different people to see what ideas are out there.
Let’s get honest: the real thing you’re saying when you’re not asking for help at work
Finally, if you’ve been avoiding asking for help at work or in your career, you need to realize the REAL thing you’re saying to yourself. It’s this:
- “I don’t value myself or my work that much.”
You’d never treat someone else with that much disrespect. Don’t you deserve better? I believe you do. Ask for help right now.