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Just Ask

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Creative Commons License photo credit: jared

“If there is something to gain and nothing to lose by asking, by all means ask!” – W. Clement Stone

As competent individuals, sometimes we want to believe that we can do more than we really can.  Our level of skill or strength or talent makes us feel good, and asking for help breaks the illusion that we can do everything ourselves.

But we can’t do everything ourselves.  Every person on Earth at some time or another must ask another person to do something for them that they can’t do.  And this is OK, but often we don’t feel OK about it.

I feel like I have been asking for things for months now.  Over the past several months, I have bought a house and moved in, as well as taken on new responsibilities at work.  I feel as if I have done nothing but ask.  And, I’ve realized that when I ask, other people are very willing to help, but I’ve also notice my own internal resistance to asking as well.  I’m glad the circumstances of my life have been as they are because I’ve had to practice asking, and it’s something I needed a little work on.  😉

Why We Don’t Ask

We Don’t Want To Be Any “Trouble”: We are often hesitant to ask for help because we don’t want to be a “burden” on anyone.  We don’t want to “bother them” or have them “go out of their way.”  It’s not that you shouldn’t be considerate of other people when you are asking them for something, but many people are very happy to help.  And, they may be asking you for something in the future.

We “Shouldn’t” Have To Ask: If we have to ask in the first place, does this mean that we are somehow “unworthy”?  Asking for what you need can make you feel a little vulnerable, especially if you are not a “practiced asker.”  It’s easy to start thinking that if you were a “better person” you wouldn’t have to ask.  But, this just isn’t true.  Other people cannot read our minds – we have to ask for what we need.

We Are Afraid They Will Say “No”: If you ask for something and the person says “No” it means they either cannot help you or will not help you.  In either case, their answer has nothing to do with you or your self worth.  A person cannot give what they don’t have and if they are unwilling, well, maybe there is someone better to ask.

Be A Better Asker

  1. Know What You Need (And Feel You Are Worthy Of Getting It) – Too many times we feel we don’t really deserve what we are asking for, and when we don’t get it, it just confirms our suspicions.  You don’t have to apologize for things that you need.
  2. Ask For What You Want Directly – Be clear about what you are asking for and don’t qualify it with things like “I’m sorry to ask, but…” or “I don’t want to bother you, but…”  Just say ” Would you…” and then fill in your request.  Wait for their response.
  3. Recognize This Person’s Choice – The person you ask can say “Yes” or “No” – it’s their choice.  Let them make the decision and understand that you can’t force them.  Help is better when given voluntarily anyways.
  4. Have Reason To Believe That Your Needs Will Be Met – Or in other words, why wouldn’t your needs be met?  If your request is within reason, then there is reason to believe that you will find help.  If for some reason you don’t believe your needs will be met – examine this.  Why do you feel this way?
  5. Show Your Appreciation –  This can be as simple as a “Thank You” and a smile, but make sure this person knows you are grateful for their help.

Are you a good “asker”?  How did you get that way?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. It’s a lot easier to ask when we already know the answer is going to be yes. But if you restrict yourself to the sure things, you’re passing up a lot of help. Taking a small risk now and then is a good thing.
    .-= Hunter Nuttall´s last blog ..How To Find Out Your Real Personality Type =-.

  2. Hi Amanda – Thank you for another wonderful post! I’m better at asking than I used to be, especially once I realized that it’s not my business to try to read other people’s minds to try to figure out if they want to help me or not. There’s room for me to improve at it, though. Also, I’ve noticed people I work with are often afraid to ask for help because they believe they *should* have all the answers themselves. In other words, they expect themselves to be perfect, which actually makes their worlds smaller and does a number on self esteem.

    p.s. congratulations on your new house!
    .-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last blog ..The Archetype of Relationship =-.

  3. Asking is so important and I find it hard sometimes to understand why some people struggle with it. I’m all about asking and one of my favorite sayings is, “It never hurts to ask!”
    .-= Positively Present´s last blog ..celebrating awesome bosses =-.

  4. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Hunter – Yeah, asking is a risk. But when something good comes from that risk, you are usually happy you took it!

    Hi Patty – Thank you! Wanting to be perfect certainly hampers asking! But no one person can do it all.

    Hi Dani – Good for you! Every time I feel a little nervous about asking, I’m always happy I did in the end.

  5. Yes I’m a very good asker! I wasn’t always. In the past I used to think “they should know I need help. they should know it’s my birthday. they should know this or that…

    Then I stopped “shoulding on myself.” Began asking and now I have support or help when ever needed.
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..The In Crowd vs The Within Crowd =-.

  6. Hi Amanda — yes, for me the most challenging thing to ask someone has always been “I want you to be with me at X time and place,” whether we’re talking about in the context of an intimate relationship or even with friends. That’s an exercise I’ve been doing a lot lately.

  7. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Tess – Great! It feels good to be able to ask. And those “shoulds”… they can really creep up on you. 🙂

    Hi Chris – I understand what you are saying about asking for something within a relationship. It can almost be harder to ask of someone who we are close with.

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