Are You Asking for Help?

It is extremely difficult to ask for help; for some, more than others. Making requests for help induces so much fear some that it paralyzes the ability to learn without shame or guilt. The fear is very real; there are many valid reasons to be afraid. Some of the more common fears are: the fear of asking for help and receiving more than you asked for, the fear of asking for help and having to “owe” or be indebted to someone, the fear of not being self-sufficient or independent if help is obtained, or the fear of not being able to ask for help appropriately or correctly – especially if there was no one around to teach you.

Toni Bernhard J.D. Professor at the University of California for 22 years, served as the law school’s dean for six years. As a nationally acclaimed self-help author, she explains that there is a great deal of vulnerability associated with reaching out for support. Our strongest fear of being vulnerable is holding us back from asking for help. Bernhard illuminates that “many of us don’t like to ask for help. We may have been taught that it’s a sign of weakness, so we cling to the notion, ‘I can do everything myself,’ even if it’s no longer the case.”

At school, asking for help could be intimidating or frightening, especially if it’s in front of the whole class. Our society is built around the ultimate mission statement: “getting ahead”. But again, shouldn’t our mission be centered around learning?

At work, unless we are new, asking for help is often seen as a deficiency. You cannot dare expose that you do not have knowledge that perhaps all other co-workers possess. It feels almost easier to figure it out on your own, even if it takes longer, than to admit to someone that you need help. Does this mindset of “getting ahead” really help productivity if your employees spend time worrying about asking someone for help instead of just completing the project by reaching out for assistance?

Whatever happened to wholesome teamwork or simply wanting to learn from each other? We all know the famous phrase “sharing is caring” (sharing of information in this case). We teach our children these things when they are young; the question we all should ask ourselves now is: at what point did we learn (or were taught) to fear, hide, hoard, and withhold from others?

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