This morning, a client shared how difficult it is for him to seek help. He fears that he may look incompetent or, worse still, that colleagues may refuse to help. As a coach, I see this a lot. New employees are shy, and senior employees believe they should know and be able to do everything.

What happens when you do not seek help?

Expecting yourself to know and do everything leads to feeling overwhelmed and isolated in the face of challenges. Additionally, when you do not seek help in times of need, you –

  • do not prioritize the interest of your clients/stakeholders
  • maybe operating in a thought vacuum
  • reduce your capacity
  • take longer to learn/ find the resources you require
  • forego the opportunity to form meaningful relationships.

Busting the myth – 

  • Let me share some research. Humans place great value on being helpful. People are more likely to help than not if we ask for it. Many people have difficulty saying “no” to calls for assistance. They go out of their way to help others simply because they are asked, even if it means sacrificing personal time to meet their obligations. 
  • Employees aspire to be seen as collaborative. Organizations also encourage this behavior by rewarding employees who go above and beyond to assist colleagues.

What can you do?

  • Time box the efforts to achieve what you are struggling to do by yourself.
  • Take a holistic look at where you are and what do you need to proceed. 
  • Identify who might be the best person to help you.
  • Share the context of what you seek and your specific request when requesting support.
  • Be the person who helps others in their time of need.

Leaders can normalize seeking help and position it as a strength by –

  • Sharing their experiences with seeking assistance to provide better/faster results.
  • Including a ‘help needed’ section in all status update meetings.
  • Highlighting the softer benefits, such as the rich connections that result from seeking help.

A hard fact is that today, we are more conscious of differences in our ideologies and quickly label people who are not like us. We are also becoming more and more isolated as our ways of working are changing. It is reassuring and humanizing to acknowledge what is common to all of us – All of us need help