- Why it can be difficult to ask for help
- When to ask for help
- How to ask for help
Why it can be difficult to ask for help
Most of us find it difficult to ask for help. The reasons for this vary, but include:
- Worrying what the person we're asking for help might think of us, including:
- Thinking we're weak or that we're a failure
- Thinking we're not a capable person (and so they might not consider us for promotion etc.)
- Thinking they would know what to do if they were in our situation and that we're making a 'fuss about nothing'
- Not wanting to admit to ourselves that we're not coping. Not 'saying it out loud' can sometimes help us to avoid facing the fact that we're really struggling.
- Not wanting to trouble or inconvenience the other person. This is especially true for people who have lived their lives being 'the one who copes'.
There are many benefits to being able to ask for help. These include the relief of sharing your issue with someone, the input they are able to provide (which may resolve the issue), and the emotional support they may offer you.
When to ask for help
If you are unsure about whether the conflict is 'bad enough' to ask for help, use the following list to guide you. It is probably time to ask for help if:
- The situation at work is starting to affect you at home, e.g. you're snappy with your children, or you're finding it difficult to sleep.
- The situation has been ongoing for more than a few weeks.
- You have tried to talk to the person involved more than once and nothing has changed.
- You can see what is likely to happen if you don't ask for help, and this doesn't feel like an option.
- You've discussed the issue with friends or family and you're not any closer to finding a solution.
- You suspect you may be being bullied by a team member or by a manager (if someone is often critical of you, if they seem to be focusing their attention on you and if you feel increasingly nervous or afraid around them).
People will often put off asking for help but this frequently makes the situation worse. You might want to ask a friend to help you prepare to ask an appropriate person for help. Then gather your courage and speak up!
How to ask for help
The following tips will help you to approach someone and ask for help.
- Think carefully about who you'll approach. This will usually be your manager or brigade captain, but in some situations it may be more appropriate to approach your Human Resources Manager or a senior colleague.
- Make sure you have done everything you feel able to do first, e.g. talk to the person involved, or come up with some suggested solutions to present to the person you're asking for help.
- Ask this person for some private time to discuss an issue you're having that you'd like their advice on.
- It might help to rehearse what you'll say beforehand. Talk this through with a colleague and ask them for feedback.
- Describe the situation to your manager or captain calmly. Be clear about how the conflict is affecting your home and work life. Get straight to the point, e.g. 'I've asked you here because I need your help in resolving a difficulty I'm having with XXXX'.
- If you are worried you might get upset, you might want to say this to your manager or brigade captain at the beginning. You could agree to take a five minute break if you feel this starting to happen.
- Don't be apologetic or say 'I'm not sure if the situation is bad enough to make a fuss about'. Be open to different solutions that your helper suggests. Unless you have serious concerns about the solution it may be better to try it out with an agreement that you'll meet to talk again in a week or a month to check progress.
- Thank the helper for their help.
Being comfortable about asking for help might be thought of as sign of weakness, but it is actually a skill that will benefit you both in your career and in your home life.