The right way to ask for help, according to a workplace psychologist

Daily Briefing

The right way to ask for help, according to a workplace psychologist

Nearly a third of workers would rather work six extra hours per week than utter these four words: “Can you help me?” And while needing help at work is common, 35% of professionals say they’re too afraid to ask for it.

People often avoid asking for help because they’re worried about seeming vulnerable, weak, or less-than-competent, writes workplace psychologist Andrea Goeglein in Quartz. But refusing to ask for help can burn you out and hinder your effectiveness, she warns.

When you encounter an obstacle, reach out to an expert in the area or a colleague you can trust, advises Goeglein. Lean on the positive relationships you have with your peers, managers, or employees to get an extra set of eyes on the issue.

But when you ask for help, watch your language and tone, writes Goeglein. If you overemphasize how confused you are, you may unintentionally make yourself sound unprepared. Instead, keep the request short, clear, and matter-of-fact. She recommends these phrases:

– “I need your help. I have tried these solutions and they have not worked. Do you have a suggested course of action?”- “I need your expertise. I know you have faced a situation like this before, will you share with me what has worked?”

Asking for help won’t just help you solve problems faster, it’ll also make you a better communicator. Employees who know how and when to ask for help are often described as great communicators by their managers and peers, according to one survey by Vital Smarts. Respondents commonly described these high performers as those who “ask for help,” “know who to go to,” and “know when to ask.”

Campus leaders shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, either. DePauw University President Mark McCoy says asking for help early and often is critical to becoming an effective college president.

Once you become a president, you won’t have any downtime to learn about budget models or do any homework, warns McCoy. “You’ve got to study this in advance,” he says. “The most important thing is to really assess your weaknesses and really take that prep very seriously.”

To identify what you don’t know, ask your colleagues for help getting up to speed, recommends McCoy. “What was most helpful for me was… [going] to different people that I knew and [saying] ‘ok, you’re going to have to coach me up on this,'” he shares (Goeglein, Quartz, 11/29).

Learn more ways to save yourself time

Ask these 5 questions now to save hours of work next week

EAB asks you to accept cookies for authorization purposes, as well as to track usage data and for marketing purposes. To get more information about these cookies and the processing of your personal information, please see our Privacy Policy. Do you accept these cookies and the processing of your personal information involved?