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Learning to Ask for Help

I’m sharing three tips to remember. Thinking about them may make it easier for you to practice asking for help.


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Tutti Taygerly

2 years ago | 3 min read

How often in your days or weeks do you support and help other people? Many of us believe that it’s our job, whether in our role as a servant-leader in corporate management or as a coach / consultant who is paid to help others.

How often do you ask someone else for help?

This is the far more difficult step. We want to appear as self-sufficient, seemly-confident leaders who have all our shit together. Asking for help can feel weak or that we’re an imposition on others. But what if practicing asking for help is the power move of leadership? This might be especially good to practice if asking for help is an atypical pattern for you.

I’m sharing three tips to remember. Thinking about them may make it easier for you to practice asking for help.

1. It feels good to be helpful

The first tip is to start with empathy. Asking for help can feel icky. To shift your mindset, think about a time when someone asked you for help AND it felt good.

Have you ever been asked by a former coworker to make an introduction to someone else you knew on LinkedIn? If it was serendipitous enough that you *actually* knew them both well and thought that they would get along, you likely made the introduction. My guess is that it felt good to connect two people.

Similarly, if it’s easy enough to help someone else, it feels good to say yes and to support their work / goals / passions with a small gesture.

Remember that feeling, that it feels good to be helpful.

So if you’re on the other side, perhaps you’re offering up a gift by giving the other person an opportunity to feel good.

2. People are busy; make it easy

But, but, but… you say. Sometimes it feels terrible when someone asks you for help, and you’re too busy, and you forget about it and feel bad. You end up completely ghosting them. And feel guilty about it.

It’s okay, we’ve all been there.

The reality is that people are busy. If you’re asking someone for help, make it easy for them. Many clients I work with struggle with networking. They may want to stay in touch with former coworkers or want to reach out to folks to have casual chats about potentially moving jobs. If you want to ask a friend, call her Amira, for help with an intro to Patrice, make it easy for Amira:

  • Amira will likely want to get Patrice’s permission to make the intro
  • Give Amira a short paragraph about yourself. Write it to be interesting / compelling for Patrice
  • Do your research and share one or two sentences about what draws you to Patrice. Bonus points: share how might you be helpful to Patrice.
  • Have an ask for Patrice, the more specific the better. For example: I’d love to learn how you moved from being an engineer into the sales organization or Given that I’ve only worked at startups, I’m curious about what different skills are needed to be a marketing lead in a large company.

People are busy. Put yourself in their shoes and make it as easy as possible for them to say yes to your ask.

3. Let go of expectations (around the outcome)

Finally, consider that the simple act of asking for help might be enough. Let go of your need for the person to respond with a “Yes” or “No, I’m too busy.” Drop the expectations around the outcome and celebrate that you were able to practice a new leadership muscle.

Often we can be paralyzed with anxiety after we make the ask:

  • Will they think that I was too needy or self-promotional?
  • They didn’t respond yet. I think they hate me.
  • What I asked for was really dumb. And how I asked was also dumb.
  • I shouldn’t have asked her.

These are all common, human self-judgements that we put on ourselves as we wait to hear the outcome of the ask.

Instead, consider that people are busy, and it’s most common that you won’t get a response. It’s okay to not get a reponse. Let go of the expectations—though you should also follow up with a polite email or text a week later, people are busy—and know that you have very little control over whether or not someone responds.

All you can do is continue to practice asking for help.

Bottom Line

For many competent leaders, it can be really hard to ask for help. If you’d like to practice more of that leadership muscle, consider that 1. it feels good to be helpful, 2. people are busy; make it easy, and 3. let go of expectations (around the outcome). I know that asking for help is a skill that’s hard for me. Yet every time I practice it, it leads to stronger relationships and my own leadership growth.

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Tutti Taygerly


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