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Why Asking for Help is Key to Career Success

Person hidden behind a desk with two hands holding up a sign that says "HELP!".

Asking for help can have a huge impact on your success and productivity whether you’re new to a job or have been with a company for years.

Surprisingly, a substantial number of professionals hesitate to ask for help, fearing it may reflect weakness or incompetence.

In fact, the opposite is true. Success can be measured in many ways and isn't solely dependent on individual performance. It's about collaboration, synergy, and knowing when to seek support from others. Today, let’s explore how embracing the simple act of asking for help and following some practical tips on how to do so effectively, can positively influence your career.

When to ask for help?

Feeling confused or overwhelmed is something everyone faces at one point or another, so you’re not alone. Moreover, being stuck or stymied from time to time is almost essential to becoming open to new opportunities, a better problem-solver, and growing professionally. So why is asking for help so hard? A recent study found that only 1 in 4 people are willing to ask for help before trying something new, even when they’re aware of the clear benefits of doing so.

The most obvious outcome of asking for help is finding better solutions faster by tapping into a larger network of expertise and collective wisdom.

Perhaps a colleague has experience with the same type of issue or challenge and can apply their knowledge to it. Why try to reinvent the wheel? By bringing a coworker or manager’s help to the table, you’ll gain the opportunity to work collaboratively with teammates, which in turn helps strengthen bonds and build relationships. And of course, having support and overcoming barriers can help reduce your stress and add to feelings of accomplishment at work.

Why ask for help?

Asking for help serves several purposes with the main benefit focused on helping you to grow in your career and as a person.

No one needs to shoulder every challenge alone and no one person has an infinite knowledge base.

Sharing in the experience and expertise of others helps you learn new skills at an accelerated rate as well as gives insight into the perspectives of others. Problem-solving and seeking input from others contributes to better outcomes and collaboration can foster diverse viewpoints and creative solutions, overcoming challenges that “inside the box” thinking sometimes cannot. Let’s also not forget enhancing proficiencies in the prized soft skills arena. Being able to take and show initiative, cooperate with, and listen to others, manage time and projects, and ask for help shows humility, self-awareness, and a willingness to learn. These are invaluable skills in any industry and will help position you as a proactive team player, enhancing your professional reputation, and opening doors to new opportunities.

How to ask for help?

So, asking for help is a powerful tool but how best to go about it? Because many people struggle with this, here are some tried and true tips on how best to ask for help.

· Acknowledge the challenge: Know that asking for help is a sign of strength not a weakness.

· Choose the right person: Pick someone to ask who is likely to have the right level of knowledge and expertise to help you out.

· Be clear and specific: Clarify and clearly communicate the problem you are looking to solve. Others can help more effectively if they understand what it is you need from them.

· Ask relevant questions: Encourage and facilitate dialogue by asking open-ended questions that promote discussion, exploration, and a comprehensive exchange of ideas.

· Listen to the answers: Be receptive to contributions and open to considering new ideas, strategies, and feedback, regardless of whether you move forward with implementing them.

· Pay it forward: Remember, you’re the one asking for help. Create a culture of gratitude by thanking them for their time and effort. You might be the person they go to for help next time.

What we know about asking for help

Asking for help is not a sign of incompetence but rather a testament and commitment to personal and professional growth. By embracing this practice, you’ll tap into a vast pool of knowledge and experience, foster meaningful relationships, and position yourself for success. Remember, you're part of a team and seeking help when needed strengthens your skills and the collective power of your organization. So, don't hesitate to reach out, grow together, and thrive in your career.


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