Reinforcing People’s Helpfulness

  • Strong sense of in-group: the belief that the person in need is on your team makes us more helpful to them as we care about what happens to the in-group.
  • Opportunity to reinforce the helper’s positive identity: people help more when they reflect on why it’s important to them to “be a benefactor to others.”
  • Opportunity to see one’s own effectiveness: people want to see or know the impact of the help they have given or will give.

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Problem Solving

MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE

2 types of gratitude expression
  • Other-praising: involves acknowledging and validating the character or abilities of the giver;
  • Self-benefit: which describes how the receiver is better off for having been given help. 

The former makes people feel better with themselves and that you are more grateful when compared to the latter.

Reminding People That They Owe You One

If you have to remind someone that they owe you one, chances are they don’t feel as if they do. Reminding them that they owe you a favor both makes the other person feel as if you’re trying to control them and it makes the other person feel as if you’re keeping a scorecard, and that’s fundamentally bad for relationships.

Portraying Help As A Tiny Favor

By minimizing our request, we also minimize the helper’s help and thus minimize any warm feelings the act of helping us might have generated.

Emphasizing The Other Person's "Benefits"

Helping does make people happy, but reminding them of this generally drains the joy out of helping. It reeks of manipulation and control, undermining the helper’s sense of autonomy, and it’s very presumptive.

Using Disclaimers

Some feel the need to clarify that they are not asking for help out of laziness or weakness. Although understandable, the people asked to help this way may feel imposed upon as they can’t get a lot of personal satisfaction from helping you knowing that you hated having to ask.

Apologizing Profusely

Being part of a group implies occasional mutual reliance and reciprocity. Excessively apologizing and justifying a request for help implies that you don’t feel part of the group, increasing the gap between people and severing feelings of connectedness.

Instead, make a request and offer appreciation when someone helps you. 

Overdoing It On Empathy

Empathy is elicited when we perceive someone or something in need, when we value their welfare, and most importantly, when we take their perspective.

Eliciting empathy can be a very effective way to obtain support. But it stops working the moment the pain becomes too great, as the person from whom you are trying to elicit empathy may shut down and try to get away.

The Selfish Motivation For Helping

It’s a common misconceptions that giving is not supposed to be about you. But choosing to help another is often, if not always, at least in part about how you see yourself and how helping will make you feel. And this is a good thing, because the benefits of helping to the helper provide a powerful source of motivation.

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RELATED IDEAS

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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IDEAS

Receiving bad news

When you receive bad news, it's helpful to acknowledge that the messenger is not the cause. When we feel helpless within the situation, we often respond with anger at, or around, the person who has to let us know.

It is possible to choose a response that can help shift the situation rather than exacerbate it. Ask questions like:

  • What happened?
  • How?
  • What now?
  • What would you advise me to do?
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. Demonstrate that you've acted on the person's advice previously so they won’t be weary you might be wasting their time and not following through.
  3. Consider the timing of your request and asked them when they are free to help so you’re not inconveniencing others.
  4. Use the "Foot in the Door" or "The Door in the Face." In the former a small request that gets the person into "yes" mode is followed by a larger request, while in the latter a large request is denied and followed by a smaller request, which seems more reasonable due to the earlier unreasonable request.
  5. Don't make someone guess what you want, be precise.
  6. Make your requests using multiple channels in customer-service situations. If you don't succeed at first, hang up and try again with a different representative, or switch to a different customer-service channel.
  7. Offer or give more help than you ask for to make people more receptive to your requests.

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