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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Problem Solving

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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.
  • 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.
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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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

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.
Don’t Apologize

When you ask for help, you may feel inclined to apologize for taking up their time and energy. Don’t. 

This is a bad idea because putting yourself down makes the other person feel less joy in helping you. Many of us apologize too much anyway.

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