The art of asking for help

August 13, 2012

Ready to stop acting like a Lone Leader and ask for some help? Bravo! Now, how exactly will you do that? Follow these five thoughtful steps and your graciousness will be nearly impossible to turn down.

• Think through exactly what kind of help you need. You want to be specific and direct, giving the reason behind your request. For instance:

“I’ve always admired your garden, and this year I’m determined to grow my own vegetables. I’ve done a lot of research, but I could use your help in selecting the right seeds and planning my plot.”

If you’re not sure of the specifics, Unstuck’s “Call in the Cavalry” tool will let you zero in on exactly who and what kind of help you need. 

• Try to find a benefit for the helper. For instance:

“When the tomatoes ripen, I’d love to make my famous Caprese salad for you.”

• If at all possible, make the request in person. Next best method is phone, followed by email. You want to show effort and respect, which makes texting an unlikely option.

• Avoid asking for help at the last minute. It puts pressure on the prospective helper, which may cause them to agree—grudgingly. But more likely they will decline. If that’s the case, thank them for their consideration.

• Exercise flexibility. You may ask for one thing, but receive a portion or slightly altered version of that help. Accept what is given, and be sincerely grateful.

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