The Most Effective Way to Ask for Help at Work

It is extremely hard these days to do work without the assistance of other people.

Fortunately, many people feel good about helping their co-workers. However, asking someone else to lend a hand still feels difficult. It’s not a simple task; figuring out how to ask for help is a skill and one that’s crucial to master in today’s workplace.

A lot of people’s hesitance to ask for help is due to anxiety, as opposed to reality. We often worry others will feel put ‘on the spot’ or that they will not like us for making a request, however, the reverse is typically true. Research has found that people tend to like those they help, not feel resentful toward them.

Helping others has also been revealed to enhance people’s moods, self-esteem and mental well-being. In fact, a recent report suggested people are about twice as likely to help others as expected.

People often overlook that because help-seekers tend to concentrate only on how it might bother someone else to help them. What they don’t stop to think about is the discomfort others feel when they decline a request.

If you’re looking to get better at asking for help at work, consider the following tips.

Be direct

People assume it’s obvious to others when they’re in need of assistance. It isn’t. Simply because you’re struggling with a package in a doorway, for instance, those near you may not help because they think you can take care of it yourself, are in a rush to get somewhere or just lost in their thoughts.

Bottom line: You must take ownership of your situation and explicitly for help if you want it.

Ask a specific person, not a group

You may have noticed that when you ask a group of people over text or email for help, you are less likely to get a response than if you had asked someone individually. According to research, that’s due to a phenomenon called the “diffusion of responsibility” – where the responsibility for helping someone is so diluted, people don’t feel sufficient responsibility to help.

Ask in-person

While asking for help over text or email can feel easier, it’s also less effective than asking in-person. People who are asked for help over email or text don’t have to go through a face-to-face rejection, which makes rejecting a request much easier.

Express how their help will have an impact

People feel better about giving when they know the impact of their contribution. On the other hand, if they don’t know how their assistance will have an effect, they’re less likely to lend a hand.

Therefore, when asking for help, talk about how the help will have an impact in the more concrete way possible.

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