Most of us find it challenging to ask for help, especially now that our world has been turned upside down. Based on personal experience, I can understand not wanting to seem weak or vulnerable, but at whose expense? I mean when my kitchen sink becomes clogged, does it matter if the plumber thinks I’m a loser for hiring him to fix it?
I recently got a text from a neighbor asking me if I could hold onto a couple of boxes that had been delivered to his front door. He was out of state tending to an aging parent, and didn’t know when he’d be home. The boxes were lightweight, and I have plenty of room in my garage. When I told him I’d be happy to help, you’d have thought I gave him a giant check from Publisher’s Clearing House.
I’ve started wondering where to set the bar? Is it okay to ask for help when we’re intending to pay for it, but not okay when we’re asking for a favor or looking to a friend for emotional support? As our country struggles to get a handle on this pandemic, it seems to me that asking for help isn’t as daunting any more. So now might be a good time to add some tools to our toolbox and figure out new concepts to use when asking for help. (By the way, I need this advice myself.)
The first thing I am putting in my toolbox is a list of people I know and their respective areas of expertise. If I need a fashion consultant, I’ll ask Meg. If I need some menu planning advice, I’ll check in with Donna. If I need some marketing tips, Becky’s my go-to. And if I need advice about relationships, I’ll call Georganne. I’m lucky. I have access to a lot of “experts.” And whether you realize it or not, you do too.
The next item I’ll figuratively add to my toolbox is a concept I’ll call brainstorming. This is a little bit of a dance, so bear with me for a minute while I explain. If you’re struggling with something that isn’t as clear-cut as calling someone on your list, it might be time to gather a few opinions. So, instead of asking for help, ask for thoughts. Example: I’m thinking about moving my office. (Not really.) I will then call David to ask “what are important factors to consider while I’m deciding?” I’m not asking him if I should move, I’m asking him to brainstorm with me about things to think about. See the difference?
You don’t have to admit you’re needy if you don’t choose to do so. You don’t have to own your vulnerability, nor give up control. You just need to add a few tools to your toolbox.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t address the fact that most people actually WANT to help. Remember how good it feels to help someone else?