A while back, I was coaching a team and sharing results from a “rate our team” questionnaire I’d developed and that they had filled in. When noting their areas where they wanted to improve, the number one thing that popped up was, “learning how to ask for help”. That was an eye-opener for many around the table.

Asking for help is tough, isn’t it?

You may fear appearing incompetent. You don’t want people to think you were a big fake and don’t know something they figure you should (PS: You’re not a fake at all. No one knows everything). We keep on telling yourself, “everyone else seems to cope, why can’t I?”. Well, here’s a light-bulb moment … people who ask for help often get it. Those who don’t, suffer silently (or worse yet, not so silently).

Here’s some tips on how you can ask for help effectively next time you feel you need it. Give them a try.


Don’t whine.

No one wants to hear the “oh poor me” story.
Present the details factually. Remove the emotion — that doesn’t mean remove the “human impact”. By all means, include that, as it’s a vital part of the business case. Avoid being emotional yourself when you describe it.

Make them look good.

Tell these people what’s in it for THEM if they help you. When you present to decision-makers, think about the outcome of what you’re suggesting, and link it to how this outcome will make them look good. Once they have a vested interested, bingo — you’ve got them hooked. Now they’re listening.

Make it a trial.

When you’re asking for a commitment, make it bite-size. It’s easier for someone to commit to a short-term, low-investment idea. It lowers their risk factor and feels more comfortable.

This really works. 

Some time ago, I had a boss who refused to approve me hiring an administrative assistant. My team and I were being pulled away from core duties and drowning in all the administrative burden. My several requests to hire help fell upon deaf ears. Finally, a colleague suggested to me to hire a “term”. The idea of a 6-month commitment was way easier to sell and the very first time I pitched this idea, my boss approved it. After the six months, it became obvious that the admin help was priceless (as every great admin person knows) and what began as a temporary fix became a permanent solution. 

Asking for a smaller commitment can be instrumental in getting what you need on a larger scale.

Be blatant.

Subtlety is wasted on most people. Know exactly what you need and ask for it.

One weekend a friend called saying that she was bringing over a few rented movies. She mentioned in passing that it was the last night of her high school’s year-end play. After dinner, I asked if she wanted to watch the movie and she again, casually mentioned the play. Upon prodding, poking and probing on my part (eeks, so much work!), I managed to extract from her that she had really wanted to see that play. Unfortunately, it was late in the night, the play was already started and she had passed the opportune time to speak up. Her hedging around the bush and using indirect communication resulted in frustration and disappointment on both our parts. Okay, I’ll ‘fess up. I was beyond disappointed and into the ticked off arena.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. This was her communication pattern.

I have begged this person to be direct with me, to not tell me what she thinks I want to hear, but rather, what she’s really thinking and preferring. She refuses. Something in her deep people-pleasing psyche keeps her mired in that futile behaviour of not speaking the truth. I can’t have meaningful relationships with people who aren’t authentic, so I keep my distance. That’s one way of dealing with emotional vampires. Very sad.

You deserve to have your needs heard and met and the first step to that, is giving them a voice. If you don’t you may be sacrificing the experience of enjoying authentic relationships.

Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
www.MarionSpeaks.com Marion@MarionSpeaks.com


© 2012-2019 Marion Grobb Finkelstein
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Communication consultant, author, and professional speaker Marion Grobb Finkelstein teaches individuals and organizations across Canada and beyond, how to improve morale, confidence and productivity by changing how they communicate. Get weekly hands-on tips by signing up for “Marion’s Communication Tips” at www.MarionSpeaks.com

Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.

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