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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The Right Way to Ask for Help at Work

hbr.org

  • 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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  • 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

... 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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