This is a time of year that can be particularly taxing both emotionally and physically. December marks the end of a 12-month marathon dealing with the pandemic, hybrid work, kids going to school and studying remotely, figuring out how to socialize again while navigating the next wave of the COVID-19 variant, and deciding whether to get the flu shot and a booster too. Gosh, it seems like a complex jumble of VUCA. Let’s then throw in some Christmas shopping and finding deals that aren’t really deals and being expected to feel lucky if you get your order in on time especially if it doesn’t involve any type of semiconductor microchip.
All of this to say, it is a time when you might need to ask for some help.
I know I’m in that boat and am deeply grateful for the help and support I’m receiving. My business has doubled this year and with the pressure of grad school, I’ve needed to reassess where and how I’m spending my time and energy. Luckily, I’ve had help with this newsletter and will have more in the new year. Award-winning psychologist, Dr. Anneke Olthof, is a contributing author and consultant. You’ll see her first post for the Authentika blog in January 2022. This month, my daughter, Maddie, has contributed an article that is timely and relevant for leaders and influencers alike.
Vulnerable and Uncomfortable
Asking for help isn’t always easy. I still struggle with doing so but am slowly chipping away at this goal of behaviour change or as we say in psychology – cognitive and behavioural modification.
How to Ask for Help
- Risk it. It can feel terribly uncomfortable asking for help. Doing so may require a little leap of faith and a shift in mindset. It is easy to fall back on a worry that you will be rejected, vulnerable, or embarrassed by asking for help. Consider that the person you ask might feel good about the request. They may feel special and valued instead of put-upon or burdened by your request.
- Be thoughtful and specific. Consider who you select to ask with careful consideration. Be specific about your ask and know why the person you’re asking is the right fit for the request. Do they have knowledge or experience with the request? Do they have the time, energy, and resources needed?
Be specific about your ask so the person knows the who, how, why, where, when, and what of your need. Don’t beat around the bush. Be direct, thoughtful, specific, and clear. Also, check in to see if this is a good time to make the ask. The person you’re asking might be preoccupied and the timing might not be ideal so asking first if this is a “good time to chat” is helpful to set the stage for your inquiry.
- Be polite and gracious. Asking for help should not be a demand and if the person says no, that isn’t a door closed, it is an opportunity to practice your ask of someone else that is better suited at this time. With your ask, demonstrate your trust and respect for them hence the reason for reaching out in the first place. You have an opportunity to listen and learn and are opening yourself up with vulnerability and humility.
- End with a call to action. By being clear and specific with your ask, ensure you have a call to action that includes, “Can you help me?”.
This is an opportunity for the person to say yes or no and then you’ll know how to proceed with next steps.
Simple Doesn't Mean Easy
Asking for help is a perfect example of one of my go-to statements
Simple doesn’t mean easy.
Don’t let yourself drown in a situation that could be solved with a request for help. You’re not in this alone and yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and it does take a village.
Test the Waters -- Pilot it.
Give this process of asking for help a try by piloting it with someone close to you that you truly trust and respect. Start small with one tiny request and see how it feels.
Reciprocate or Pay it Forward When You Can
When you feel ready, ensure you’re open to saying yes to helping others and being in a place of service.
There is a time and season for all of this. Right now, your season might be needing support and that is just where you need to be. Only by asking will you find out if the answer is yes and a door of support is waiting for you to walk through.