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Do you need help?


Do you ask for help?

In last week's email, we looked at career mistakes. One of the common career mistakes that is "trending" online at the moment is not asking for help. Although I was somewhat dismissive of these common mistakes, I think that this one is actually really important for all of us to think about.

If you have a career goal or aspiration, the chances are you will get there more quickly and more comfortably with some support. My sense is that most of us are bad at asking for help from others.

I cut my teeth in professional services back in the 90s. My early career involved a lot of "winging it" by me and by my colleagues. I would never have asked for help unless it was offered. In hindsight, it was not a healthy culture. However, this was a pattern throughout my career. I always thought I should "know" all the answers. Afterall I was employed to fulfil a certain role, I should know what to do. This may well be linked to Imposter Syndrome. We don't ask for help in case we're "found out" as incompetent.

So, I've been doing some research about why it's hard to ask for help and these are the common reasons:

  • We are hardwired to want to do things on our own and show independence
  • We don't like relinquishing control
  • We don't want to be perceived as needy
  • We're afraid of being rejected

How to ask for help

Quite often, I work with people who have lost their jobs. This is a very vulnerable time and reaching out for help can feel even more difficult. I will often ask my clients to step into the shoes of the person that they are asking for help. Think about it. If someone reached out to you tomorrow asking for your help to support them in finding a new job, in broadening their network or simply to share your expertise, you would do it without thinking. You would be flattered and eager to assist. Reframing the scenario, by asking for help you are actually giving the other person an opportunity to be helpful, to be a hero. We all like to be thought of in that way.

Here are a couple of other tips I picked up in my research that will help you to ask for help:

  • Take opportunities to ask for help in smaller ways. Perhaps asking for help with a tech issue (!) or other small favour that won't take too much time.
  • Reframe your request so it’s a conversation, rather than a transaction: "I've got a challenge I'd really like to chat through with you".
  • Create a support network of people that wouldn't hesitate to help you out and vice versa.

Go and ask for help

This week, think of a challenge you're facing. Who could help you to overcome this challenge? Now why not reach out and ask them for help. Apparently, it gets easier if you practise. I'm going to give it go!

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