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