Asking for help is something that I haven’t always been comfortable doing. In my first few weeks as a server, my managers would often ask if I needed anything and I would always tell them, “No thanks, I’ve got this” … and I mean always. It didn’t matter how busy I was or how long the list was of things that I needed to do, I would never accept the help. There were three reasons that caused me to shy away from accepting or asking for help, and I’m sure I’m not the only one:
- The fear of being rejected or told no
- The fear of appearing to be incapable or unable
- The fear of internally feeling as though I’d failed
Once I started at Plan A I would never ask for help either, even when I felt overwhelmed. Shortly after starting with Plan A, I knew that I wouldn’t get very far in completing my tasks if I refused to accept help when it was offered or if I shied away from asking for help when I truly needed it.
Since then, I’ve become quite comfortable with asking for help. If I need something done right away for one of my tables or if I need a second set of eyes to read over an email before I send it out, I never shy away from asking someone who appears to have a bit of time if they wouldn’t mind helping me out. One thing that I’ve come to realize with time is the following: If someone is offering to help, it’s because they genuinely want to help. Keep in mind that everyone is living their own busy life, so if they’re offering their help, don’t feel bad about accepting it; very rarely will someone offer you their help if they don’t want to or if they don’t have the time to follow through with it!
Like I said, I haven’t always been good at asking for help or requesting a favour; it’s come with time and practice. What I’ve realized is that I would follow the same three steps every time I found myself in a position where I needed to ask for help:
- Realize and accept that you need the help. Not everyone realizes that they need help until it’s too late to ask and they’re drowning in their “to do’s”. If you’re able to take a few minutes and prioritize what you have left on your to-do list, this will give you the chance to see if it’s possible for you to complete everything on your list on your own. If not, pick a few of the easier tasks that can be passed on and…
- Come up with a list of people that you can approach to ask for help for each specific task. When I ask friends or coworkers for help, I usually ask those that I know wouldn’t mind completing the task, depending on what the task is. For example: when I go out of town, I have two cats that need to be taken care of. I have two friends that live close by, but one of them has a cat of their own while the other does not. Knowing that and that alone, I would be more likely to ask my friend who has a cat than the one who doesn’t because I know that she would be more comfortable with that specific task.
- Ask, but give them the option to say no. I’m the type of person that doesn’t like feeling forced to do something that I don’t want to do and I don’t like putting others in that position either. So when I ask someone for help, I usually start with, “Do you have time to…” or “Would you mind…” and then I usually finish by saying, “…if not it’s okay! I just thought I’d ask”. This asks the question, but it doesn’t make them feel as though they’re forced to say yes.
What if they say no? The response that everyone dreads. That possibility is one of the main reasons that we have so much trouble asking for help, right? It is for me anyways. One thing I’ve gotten used to is the possibility that some of the individuals that I approach for help are going to be too busy to take on the task or maybe they just don’t want to do it. Rather than taking it personally, which can sometimes be difficult, simply thank them for their time and either seek out another individual to ask for help or find a way to make the time to complete the task on your own!