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The Right Way to Ask for Help at Work

https://hbr.org/2018/05/how-to-get-the-help-you-need

hbr.org

The Right Way to Ask for Help at Work
Few of us enjoy asking for help. As research in neuroscience and psychology shows, the social threats involved-the uncertainty, risk of rejection, potential for diminished status, and inherent relinquishing of autonomy-activate the same brain regions that physical pain does.

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What Not To Do When Asking For Help

What Not To Do When Asking For Help
  • Instruct people.
  • Tell or imply that they should help our debt they don’t have a choice about it.
  • Using unnecessary prefaces makes people feel trapped.
  • Profusely apologizing makes the experience seem less positive.
  • Emphasizing reciprocity can make people feel indebted or like they are engaging in a purely transactional exchange.
  • Minimizing your need suggests the assistance is trivial or even unnecessary.

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Reinforce A Request For Help

  • In-group: Assuring that you’re on the helper’s team and the team’s importance taps into our need to belong to and perpetuate supportive social circles. 
  • Positive identity: Creating or enhancing their recognition that they are uniquely placed to provide assistance and that they aren’t just “people who can help” but routinely helpful people. 
  • Effectiveness: People want to know the impact of the aid they will give. Knowing one’s actions have an effect is a fundamental human motivation. 

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Research Results On Helpfulness

  • Studies indicate that people are willing to help more often than we expect.
  • Studies suggest that we underestimate how much effort those who do agree to help will put in.
  • Those who help others get to feel better with themselves than those who don’t.

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The anxiety of asking for help

The anxiety of asking for help

... activates the same brain regions that physical pain does. And in the workplace, where we’re typically keen to demonstrate as much expertise, competence, and confidence as possible, it can feel particularly uncomfortable to make such requests.

The key to a successful request for help is to shift the focus to the benefits of helping. You want people to feel that they would be helping because they want to, not because they must, and that they’re in control of the decision. 

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

"You're going to love helping me!"

"You're going to love helping me!"

Don't try and convince someone how much they will enjoy helping you. It reeks of control and is presumptive. It drains their joy out of helping.

How they feel is for them to decide.

A small favor

One common tactic is to portray the help we need as so small, that it is barely a favor. "Would you add these updates to the database? It won’t take you more than five minutes.”

It is conveying that you think the work the other person does is easy, quick, trivial and not very taxing. That’s not a great way to enlist help. You might also underestimate the size of the favor. Do not presume it won’t take them very long the next time you ask them for help.

Scorekeeping

While reciprocity does make people more likely to comply with the request, it also makes us feel controlled, which takes all the fun out of it.

Reminding someone that they owe you a favor does not create good feelings. Scorekeeping is fundamentally bad for relationships.

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Tips To Better Ask For Help

Tips To Better Ask For Help
  1. Demonstrate that you've tried to help yourself. Briefly explain what you've tried independently so they know you've tried to solve your problem for yourself before.
  2. Demonstra...

Managing Without Micromanaging

Managing Without Micromanaging
  • Micromanagement has a bad reputation, and team members want to work autonomously, not being watched all the time and told what to do.
  • Managers, however, cannot be ...

George S. Patton

George S. Patton

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

The Timing Of A Help Offer

Successful managers don’t preempt every obstacle a team member encounters but watch and listen, looking for the right time to pitch in. If someone is already stuck in the challenge, first-hand, they are engaged enough to take the advice in a positive manner.

Lending the hand at the right time makes the employee use the instructions in a better way, as if the same thing was said in the beginning, it would not have registered with them at all.