This week, I got a taste of my own medicine.
I was hanging out with a friend who received an urgent work email to complete a hefty form replete with metrics and quantified research. Though it seemed unwieldy, the form could probably be completed in under an hour with the right culling of data. However, my friend had not been tasked this before and sat with a panic-stricken look on his face, unsure what to do and where to begin. In a matter of seconds, he went from cheerful and happy to stressed. The deliverable was expected to be returned quickly. I watched him slump his shoulders and grumble under his breath.
I left the room, unsure if I should offer to help or give him space to complete the assignment. Half an hour later, I returned to his area and he was googling how to do this. It was clearly a longer process to learn how to grab the information than to actually get the data points. Surprisingly, I knew how to do this. I asked him if he needed help, and pridefully, he said, “no, I’ll figure it out.” Undeterred, I said I’d done this exact data search before and could teach him how to do it and help him.
I could tell he half-wanted my help and half-wanted to know how to do it already. He was torn. After a few minutes of turning this over in his mind, he agreed to learn. We got the information completed in under 30 minutes and he was back to his cheerful self. At the end, I reminded him that all he had to do was ask.
* * *
Later in the week, I felt anxious and stressed about launching a product in my own business (stay tuned!). As an entrepreneur who works alone, I didn’t think I had anyone to talk to about my ideas. I’ve considered hiring a business manager, but have felt hesitant to invest that kind of money (maybe this is exactly what I need to do!?). I noticed myself turning inward. This is often what happens to me when I’m deep in thought and ruminating: I get really quiet. I weighed if it was worth sharing aloud or if I should keep my thoughts private. I could feel myself about to spiral into a dark hole…So, instead, I shared my concerns aloud. And the response I received was nothing short of amazing!
“I can help you.”
“Really? But you’re so busy.”
“Before you hire someone, let’s talk it out. I can be your accountability partner and help you along the path if we discuss ideas.”
* * *
It was the antidote to my worries: asking for and receiving help. And all I had to do was speak up and ask.
I’ve encouraged my clients to use me effectively — whether that be asking for accountability while making a big or small change or bringing up topics that are sticky and difficult to talk about. I was reminded how difficult it can be to ask for help.
Pride, shame, ego, age all get in the way of asking for help, making us feel vulnerable and embarrassed to ask. So when someone offers support or help, which might not come ’round very often, it feels really special to receive. To the cynic, it might even feel disengenuous.
When you don’t ask, it’s likely you’re not wanting to interfere or be a burden. But your martyrdom comes at a price. You might burn out. Instead, let someone support you. Give them a chance to help you, listen, or share the burden.
“All you have to do is ask.”
- Those small seven words add up to a feeling of support.
- I believe it pays to speak up and ask.
- Most of the time people want to help when they can.
- If you don’t ask, your answer is immediately no. If you ask, there’s a good chance the answer will be yes.