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The Do’s and Don’t’s of Asking for Help at Work



No one likes to feel like the weak link. This is especially true when it comes to their job. Whether it’s because of a fear of losing out on a promotion, getting fired, or simply a matter of personal pride, some people will refuse to ask for help in an attempt to avoid ‘looking bad’. Not only does this put a physical and mental strain on the individual, but it can be damaging for the company as well, only exacerbating the problem. There are ways to ask for help without losing any status in your job, and we’re going to tell you how.

Make Sure You Need It

A difficulty is not a defeat. When you come up against a problem at work, think of ways to either fix or efficiently work around it. Asking for help when you need it is a responsible thing to do; asking for help at the first sign of trouble on a consistent basis, will not score you any points among your co-workers or management.

Don’t Wait Too Long

While you should try to work things out yourself before seeking out help, do so within reason. You don’t want to get caught up on a problem and waste time when it could have been handled simply by someone with different expertise. Sometimes, trying to be a lone wolf is not just a burden for you, but it can be a hindrance to your co-workers as well.

You don’t do anyone any good by tiring yourself out trying to do something you simply don’t know how to do. All it will do is negatively affect your performance of the tasks you do are equipped to handle. This is to say nothing of time-sensitive issues. Finally, it’s better to ask for help and get it right, than struggle to do it yourself and do it wrong. Guess which one your boss would prefer?



Be Specific

The very last thing you want to say is “Do this for me.” Not only does it seem kinda lazy, but it also gives the appearance that you are giving up. That is not what you want to do. “How do I do this?” This is infinitely better than asking someone to do the task for you. You are actively searching for a solution instead of admitting defeat. Plus, you’ll know how to do it yourself in the future.

Asking for instruction is great, but I think we can still do a little better. Assess the problem and then try to come up with specific questions about the process. It shows that you’ve figured some things out where you could and it allows you to offer up ideas and possible solutions. You’re less asking for help and more working together for the best outcome. For example: Instead of saying, “How do I do this?” Try this, “If I do A on project B, will it have result C?” If you’re right, it shows understanding. If you’re wrong, it prevents a possible mistake and allows for a more successful plan to be implemented.

Personal Issues

Asking for help with personal issues can be a lot trickier. If you feel like you’re being overwhelmed by your workload and that it is affecting your well-being, you have a responsibility to yourself and your company to let someone know. It can be uncomfortable to talk to a boss about physical or mental exhaustion, but you’d be surprised at how understanding they can be. After all, if you drive yourself into the ground and your work suffers, nobody wins. If you need to take some time to reset yourself, it’s best to just ask for it. Of course, do your best to make sure it’s not a busy time, read the situation. If you feel like you need more than a little time, there’s probably something else wrong that you need to fix. Conversely, your current job may not be the right one for you. This may further help you navigate a somewhat tricky subject.

Hopefully, this will help you realize that asking for help is an important part of collaborative work. Independent ability is great, but teamwork is a hallmark of the business world.

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