Bad Girl, Good Business

The 100 Years Club Installment #15: Helpers, Users, Meddlers (and How to Ask for Help)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The month of May has been all about help.

In my past two posts, I covered self-help and helping others.

Now let’s talk about how to ask for help, who to ask, and when to ask.

I work in my own service business and raised two daughters while working full-time (commuting as much as 3 hours daily and leading teams). I volunteer for the Society of Saleswomen.

I’ve realized that identifying who wants help and welcoming help from others are critical skills that evolve with time and experience.

Here are my top 10 tips for getting, giving, and gratitude — in work and life:

  1. Be REALLY specific about what you need. That can be the hardest part.
  2. Figure out who can give it to you.
  3. Ask them at the right time and clarify what you need from them.
  4. Do not be afraid to ask. They’ll either say, “Of course,” or “I can’t.” Or, they may say “Yes” and then drop the ball or disappoint you. See #5-8.
  5. Trust the people you’ve asked to do what they committed, but…
  6. If they don’t help you, limit your frustration and have a plan B and…
  7. Have a direct but honest convo with the person who let you down. Don’t fester. See the links below for a great guide to having those talks.
  8. Identify those people who say they want to help but continuously drop the ball or feign ignorance and eliminate them from your inner circle. If they are employees or contractors, perhaps you need to replace them.
  9. Beware the people who mean well and offer help when you don’t really need it. Keep your cool, thank them, and simply explain that you have it covered (or give them another job to do that IS useful to you). If you tend to be one of those people, see the “How to Offer Help” link, below.
  10. When someone DOES help, don’t forget to thank them — privately or publicly. Simple social media tags, a note or phone call, or public recognition at work will usually be much appreciated.

Yeah, that all sounds pretty simple and rational. But the reality is many people like to moan about how busy or overwhelmed they are and then refuse to let anyone in to help them. Or, they may repeatedly ask the wrong people for help (or not listen to the right people) and then whine about it.

Start every day by asking yourself, “What do I need today?” and either figure out a way to get it yourself or ask someone else (the “right” person or resource) to help you.

Categorizing people as “helpers” and “users” isn’t always fair. Sometimes people would like to help, but they are dealing with their own stuff or unsure of what you need.

That said, some people live in their own heads all the time and may never be able to give you what you need, even when asked. They have excuses, don’t pay attention to the request, or just drop the ball after they’ve committed. Stop counting on them. Just move on.

As May draws to a close, take inventory of your own help-giving and help-getting styles and help yourself be a better supporter and delegator.

Whether you need a lift to the airport, help with a huge work challenge, or simply assistance with folding laundry or other household chores, knowing who to ask, when to ask, and how to ask are all equally important.

What prevents YOU from asking for (or offering) help sometimes? Your help commenting on this blog post will be much appreciated!

BGGB.OkeyDokey-fred A great book about accountability (and how to have those tough conversations)
BGGB_ShakingHands How to offer helpful help
BGGB_Thumbs-Down-fred Takers (and how to identify them)
BGGB_Pointer How to politely say no when asked to help





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