Asking for Help

One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is one that was passed down from my grandmother, to my mother, to me. (And I’m not talking about their excellent fudge recipe!)

Allowing someone to help you is giving them a gift.

Let me say that again. Allowing someone to help you is giving them a gift!

Now, I invite you to think about this for a minute before discounting it.  A lot of people instinctively feel that asking for help is being a burden to others, or a sign of weakness and that we should be able to look after ourselves.

Imagine this scenario. A friend calls you, and asks you for help. It might be a small favour, advice or a more significant ask. Perhaps they are asking you to pick up their child from school, to help plan their partner’s birthday party, or merely asking your advice on a personal or work-related matter.  Your friend may appear nervous, or unhappy, desperate or hesitant. They may even apologise before making the request.

How does that request make you feel? I find that these requests leave me feeling good, even honoured that I am considered a trusted friend. I am almost always eager to help any way that I can, and I get great satisfaction in looking for solutions or assistance to their problem.  The opportunity to help someone with advice gives me a chance to feel that they value my opinion. I am also quick to try to alleviate any concerns they may have and reassure them that they are not a burden and I am very happy to help.  Do you feel the same way?

Humans are social creatures, and we innately know that helping each other, and working together will have a greater impact on our productivity and survival.

A phenomenon known as “Helper’s High” is also relevant here, that is the positive emotions that are experience following selfless service to others.  Isn’t that a lovely gift to give!

The Resilience at Work (R@W) Toolkit defines Resilience as “An individual’s capacity to manage the everyday stress of work and remain healthy, rebound and learn from unexpected setbacks and prepare for future challenges proactively.

This toolkit allows us to assess, and learn from feedback on 7 components of resilience for individuals, teams and leaders.

The R@W Individual Scale includes a component called Interacting Cooperatively.  This includes seeking feedback, advice and support and providing support to others.

A number of people score quite well in this component, however when we drill down into the various aspects of Interacting Cooperatively, we find that while they are comfortable helping others, they are much more reluctant to show vulnerability in the workplace (or in their personal lives) to ask for help and feedback.

However, mutual support is a crucial aspect of resilience in a team while seeking feedback regularly promotes adaptability. We cannot change without understanding how we are performing.  Promoting a climate of openness and mutual support helps. This means being confident in your strengths but willing to be vulnerable and ask for support when you need it.

Here are some strategies to build on your ability to Interact Cooperatively:

  • Seeking out feedback on job performance on a regular basis. Doing this in a confident ‘what can I do better?’ manner, rather than appearing lacking in confidence
  • Offering support to colleagues without waiting to be asked
  • Not being afraid to ask for advice and support when it’s needed. Highly self-sufficient and independent people may be ready to give support but not ask for it. Taking support when it’s needed is an important part of staying resilient.

Rather than showing weakness, asking for help can be a sign of strength, of courage to show vulnerability, and a way to strengthen relationships. Offering and seeking support within a team also improves performance.

If you’d like to learn more about the Resilience at Work framework, or how to boost your resilience, book in for on of our upcoming Resilience Mini-Workshops here.


Article written by Mentally Wellthy collaboration partner, Brigit Steindl. Brigit has an extensive background as a senior human resources professional, is an excellent leader and an accredited Resilience at Work Facilitator. Brigit specialises in coaching managers and supervisors in resilience or leadership skills.