Published June 06, 2020 by with 2 comments

How to ask for help at work?

At work, more often than not, we end up in situations where we need help or guidance from fellow workers. It could be help in making a presentation, in writing a piece of code or as simple as reviewing an email. At times, we get what we need and at others, we don't. Many a times we hesitate, thinking it would make us appear incapable, someone who can't get their work done on their own.

Let's talk about the times when we don't get the help we need. There could be various reasons for that. It could be that we couldn't ask for help in the first place, or the person wants to help, but helping us would mean delaying their own work.

Here, I have noted down 3 simple tricks for you, that would make asking for help a lot easier.


Do Your Homework

When you are stuck with some problem, how do you reach out to others for help? A very common way would be to ask, "Hey, could you help me solve this problem?". Simple as that. 

Now, let's think from the perspective of the person helping you. All they know is you have a problem, and need their help to solve it. The first thought that would come to their mind is, "I need to understand the problem first, do my research and then provide a solution. This is going to take time". Another possible thought that could come is, "Why don't they solve it on their own? I can't spoon feed them every time.".

Suppose, if we change our ask to - "Hey, I am stuck with this problem for sometime now. I have tried this solution, but no results. I have searched for other possible solutions as well, and this is what I could find. Could you guide me if I'm on the right track, and what else I could look at?". 

Notice the difference? Before reaching out for help, we did our homework, and provided them with enough information, so they don't have to start from ground zero. Also, we showed that it's not like we didn't put any effort. We tried whatever we could, and after exhausting all our options, we have reached out to them. Lastly, we didn't ask for a solution, but guidance. This is crucial, as we don't want to be spoon fed, and would like to solve the problem on our own.


When people see that we are not going to them with a blanket problem, but with possible solutions as well, they are more likely to help.


Show Gratitude

We all have a go-to person in our lives, whom we keep bugging with our queries. It could be because we feel comfortable reaching out to them, or they are know-it-all types, who has an answer for every problem.

At times we think, "Are they getting bothered with our repeated requests?". They might very well be, and we should not take them for granted. So, to avoid being in a situation, where they might actually get tired helping you, a simple solution is to show gratitude. 


Let them know how helpful they were in solving your problem. Instead of just saying "Thank you", explain them how crucial their help was, and what it would have been otherwise if they hadn't helped. 


There is no better feeling than to realize the difference we made in other person's life, by simply helping them out.


Give As Much As You Take

The last, and probably the most important trick is, give as much as you take. Help and guidance is not a one-way street. The willingness of others helping you, largely depends on your reputation of helping others.


There is a popular saying "Do as you would be done by". Like in many other cases, this is applicable here as well. Develop a habit of assisting others, even if it would mean taking out extra time for them. Such a behavior never goes unnoticed. It's a natural tendency for an individual to help someone they have received help from in past.


Additionally, when you regularly help others, you automatically develop the self-confidence to ask for help, without thinking if it would make you feel incapable. By helping others, you understand that how normal it is to ask for help and guidance, and if you are helping them, they would help you too.


This needs to be done with consistency though. Something you did long back won't have the same impact in contrast to what you would do consistently.