Why is it sooo hard to ask for help?
While there are many reasons why you might resist asking for help, such as ego, fear, rejection, relinquishing of control, it’s impossible to succeed if you don’t ask for assistance. Success is not created in a vacuum and no one achieves anything amazing without the help of others. You might be alone in a lab finding a cure for cancer but you still owe it to the researchers before you who tried and failed (not to mention the poor lab rats) who had a hand in informing your research.
Neuroscientists have noted that the brain likes to be right. Heidi Grant, writing for HBR, reports that: “the social threats involved [when asking for help] activate the same brain regions that physical pain does. And in the workplace, where we’re typically keen to demonstrate as much expertise, competence, and confidence as possible, it can feel particularly uncomfortable to make such requests.”
In her HBR blog post, How to get the Help you Need, Grant identified 3 reinforcements, or benefits, for those who agree to help:
–Effectiveness: People want to see or know the impact of the aid they will give. This isn’t an ego thing. Many psychologists believe that feeling effective—knowing that your actions created the results you intended—is the fundamental human motivation; it’s what truly engages people and gives their lives meaning.
–In-Group: Assure your helper that you’re on his or her team and that the team is important. This taps into the innate human need to belong to—and ensure the well-being of—supportive social circles. Align around a common goal, enemy, or trait, if appropriate.
–Positive Identity: Show how they are uniquely placed (by virtue of their attributes or role) to provide assistance and that they are not merely people who might help you but helpful people who routinely come to others’ aid.
It’s been my observation as a coach that creating the opportunities for shared success around shared values is how we build strong teams. Asking for help, acknowledging the efforts of others, and sharing the credit for the resulting success are the key actions in building trust and ensuring that you will have the support you need to meet your goals and feel a part of something bigger than yourself.