When You Cringe At the Mere Idea of Asking for Help

It's tough to reach out when you need a helping hand.When I’m talking to my clients and our conversation inevitably turns to networking, I often hear from people that they don’t want to appear needy, that they don’t want to enter relationships with their hands out ready to receive.

It’s uncomfortable, it’s awkward, it’s usually not well received.

All true.

At the same time, people want to support you, and if you give them the opportunity to do so, particularly when it’s a discrete task (coffee next Monday at 2 pm), it’s easy for them to show up for you. And, in a paradoxical twist, by specifying exactly what you need in way that’s inviting and easy for them without the overtone of entitlement or desperation, you actually help them.

Have you ever heard of “elevation”? It’s a term used to describe the high that we feel after we contribute meaningfully to someone else. We are literally hardwired to respond to others’ struggles.

Think about the last time you helped someone, really made a difference to them. It could have been as simple as opening the door for the person behind you who was carrying a heavy package. How did you feel right after you made that gesture? Pretty good, huh?

That’s how others feel when you allow them into your world, when you share authentically with them.

Let people help you.

You’ve done it for many other people, and you’ll do it again. Perhaps you’ll do it in a matter of moments, in fact, because you’re not helpless or inept. You are capable and whole and you help out (even when you’re in a job search). By receiving for just a moment, in a way that replenishes you and fuels you for the next steps in your job search, you aren’t rendered weak or without resources. You are simply accessing what’s right in front of you and connecting in ways that we all want to be connected.

3 Replies to “When You Cringe At the Mere Idea of Asking for Help”

  1. Fantastic connection to the sense of gratification we get when we help others! It’s true! And particularly, if someone reaches out to me with something concrete and specific that I can manage easily enough, I am definitely glad to help. What a great point to turn it around to our asking for help for ourselves. If I present the request in clear, quantifiable terms, it takes a lot of burden off the one I am asking, and should make it so much easier for her/him to know if it’s something s/he can provide.

  2. I read or heard the other day (unfortunately I forgot where) that if you get the other person to help you out or support you, they become more positive towards you, they are more likely to help you again or do you another favor again in the future than if you help them or do a favor to them. It must be that gratification factor, because we make them feel good

  3. I love this, Maggie! So often, it seems easy to forget how gratifying it can be to help lift up another person. I have found that when I’ve hesitated to reach out to others for favors or advice but have gone ahead and done it anyway, it nearly always turns out well. Many times not only have I gotten a lot of support but also those who have been asked have frequently been complimented that I thought of them as the “go-to” person! When these connections are established, everyone wins. Great post!

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