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How To Ask For Help In 7 Easy Steps

Asking for help, take 1…

“Hello?” I tuck my phone underneath my ear.

“Ivy? Hi, it’s Ibk.” He paused. “You sent me a text about video editing and branding.”

“Oh, hi!” I squeal and I stop to clear my throat hoping I do not sound desperate.

“SoIneedsomehelpwithvideoeditingandpersonalbranding,” I mumbled.

“Dear I didn’t hear you,” Ibk answered.

I take a deep breath and repeat, “So I need some help with video editing and personal branding.”

“Oh, okay, I will help you,” Ibk replied.

Why Is It So Hard For Me To Ask For help?

I have always been like that; I really truly do not like asking people for help. Even very welcoming friends like Ibk.

I actually feel more comfortable doing favors for others than asking for help.

Feeling Obligated

I do not like feeling obligated.

Before I ask for help, I will think “What do I owe this person now?”

I do not like receiving favors because I do not want to owe anybody anything. I have no idea what someone could ask for in return. I do not like uncertainty and I do not like feeling indebted.

I actually prefer all my favors to be reciprocal in nature. “I will help you file your legal paperwork and you help me with this website.” Ibk told me that he hates when I do that because it is wholly unnecessary. I used to think that doing that shows people that I value their time and energy but perhaps it just comes off that I count favors.

I also used to say with pride that I am self-sufficient. But that’s limiting. Stephanie Obi, the founder of Steph B-School, recently reminded me that “no man is an island.” She is right, I am not an island and why should I strive to be?

Actually, I just spoke to my friend Ayomide “Ayo” Shittu (high powered attorney, super connector, one of the founders of Young African Professionals-Houston Chapter, future CEO of her own fortune 500 company LOL) about this very issue two weeks ago. She is an exciting high energy person. I will write more about her and YAP in the future.

I was telling Ayo that I don’t understand how I can receive a favor and not feel obligated. She was telling me that true friendship isn’t quid pro quo. She is right. I do not keep count of how many favors I do for friends and I doubt my friends keep count either.

Ugh, Poor Communication Skills

So essentially it is hard for me to communicate that I need help. This blog has forced me to realize that I have poor communication skills. This communication problem is preventing me from creating lasting bonds with others.

When you ask people for help, you are telling them that you appreciate and value their insights and ideas. You are comfortable around them and this will create a stronger bond.

Feeling Vulnerable

Trying so hard with this blog has made me more vulnerable. I do not like feeling vulnerable.

NOT AT ALL…

I used to think feeling vulnerable meant I was weak and soft. However, I am starting to think that vulnerability is not a weakness.

It just means that I am transparent and authentic. I am ready to connect and listen to the perspectives of the people I am trying to service.

In the words of Ibk; “People feel that it’s shameful to ask for advice or direction… but its perspective” not reality. Ugh, I know it is my ideas and beliefs that are standing in the way of asking for help or favors.

How To Ask For Help

I have sat on a project for weeks because I could not figure it out and could not ask for some help. Does that make sense?

It stops today!

Below are the action steps on how to ask for help:

1. Know what you want to ask!

So important, yet overlooked all the time; Why are you asking this person for help? Think about it and make sure you can write or say your request in one sentence.

2.  Be straightforward.

Ask your question clearly and do not beat around the bush. Ask in specific terms. DO NOT preface your request with disclaimers!! Also, do not ask for help like this guy did, just this morning. Major FAIL!

How Not To Ask

3. Give a reason.

Several months ago, an acquaintance contacted me out of the blue inquiring for the personal contact information of one of my interviewees without supply the reason why. I was confused why she was asking for the personal contact so of course, I did not comply.

(If she supplied a reason I would have reached out to the interviewee and asked. I do NOT give out the personal contact of anyone without seeking their permission. 🙂 )

4. Pickup on subtle cues.

Did the person give an enthusiastic or reluctant yes? If someone gives an enthusiastic yes, then there is no issue.

However, if someone gives a reluctant yes, give that person a way out at this point. Say something along the lines of, “If you cannot do it, I completely understand, I know you are very busy.” There is no point working with someone who is not eager to work with you.

5. Be prepared to accept a “no.”

This past weekend an old college friend called me and demanded that I interview her because she just started a business.

I was so taken aback by her demanding tone that at the end of the one-sided conversation I told her that when I want her on MY blog, I will let her know. This would have been a very different result had she just approached me in a normal polite manner. (*Do not ask for help when you are having a bad day!*)

If you cannot accept a “no” answer, then you are making a demand, not a request for help.

6. Say thank you if they agree and be sincere!

People can sense sincerity so thank them for their help from your heart. They are spending time and energy on you; show them that you value their time. There is nothing more valuable than time!!!

7. Recognize that it is okay to ask for help in areas that you are weak in!

Ask and you shall receive…is so true.

What about you? Do you have great tips and strategies (or examples) for how to ask for help? Tell me about it in the comments.

Thank you for Reading!

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I Need A Mentor, stat!

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