How to Ask For Help at Work

by | Apr 11, 2023

how to ask for help at work

It can be challenging to admit when you don’t know the answer, especially in the workplace. If you never ask for help, though, you’re setting yourself up for stress and, eventually, burnout.

How can you get more comfortable support from your colleagues or managers? This guide outlines some practical strategies on how to ask for help at work that you can start using today.

Why Should You Ask for Help?

Asking for help at work offers numerous benefits to you and your colleagues. The following are some of the most significant ones:

Show That You Care

Some people assume that asking for help is a sign of weakness or ineptitude. In many cases, though, it’s exactly the opposite.

Asking for help shows that you care about producing quality work and want to make decisions that benefit the company.

Build Better Relationships

People may also feel flattered that you’ve come to them for help (because that likely means you see them as trustworthy, knowledgeable individuals). Getting a second opinion or seeking advice from a coworker can help you build a stronger relationship. 

Increase Productivity

Don’t forget that asking for help early, rather than guessing and hoping for the best, will increase your productivity and efficiency at work. Rather than making mistakes and spending time trying to fix them, you’ll get things done correctly the first time. 

Improve Mental Health 

If you constantly try to do everything yourself and refuse to ask for help, you’ll likely feel more stressed and anxious on the job. Seeking support and taking advantage of the resources available to you will help you remember that you’re not alone and may contribute to better mental health. 

Like this article? Check out this one about rewards at work and how they can help and hurt employee motivation.

How to Ask for Help at Work

If you’re ready to enjoy the benefits of asking for help but aren’t sure how to start, try one (or more) of these tips:

1. Identify the Problem

Before you ask for help, take a step back and identify the specific issue you’re struggling with and how someone might be able to help you.

For example, are you having trouble figuring out how to solve a specific problem? Do you need guidance on using a particular program or tool? Are you overwhelmed and need someone to help you complete a project to ensure it gets completed on time?

The better you understand the problem, the easier it’ll be to explain it to someone else and get genuine assistance. 

2. Make a List of Solutions You’ve Tried

People are often more inclined to help you if they know that you’ve first tried to help yourself. After you’ve identified the problem, but before you go to someone for assistance, make a list of the solutions you’ve attempted or steps you’ve taken to resolve the issue.

Not only will this list show your colleagues that you’ve made an effort and aren’t just trying to get out of doing your job (we’ve all worked with that person before), but it also ensures your coworker or manager doesn’t tell you to do something you’ve already tried. 

3. Time Your Request Correctly

If you time your request for help correctly, you’ll be more likely to get the support you want and need. For example, don’t knock on your boss’s door when they’re obviously in a meeting with someone else or flag your coworker down to ask a question when they’re getting ready to leave for lunch.

You may also want to send an email or chat message letting your boss or colleague know that you could use some help. Ask them what time works best for them, then accommodate their schedule.

4. Ask the Right Person

Along with proper timing, it’s also essential that you make sure you’re asking the right person for help. When you’re identifying the problem, consider who is best suited to provide the correct answer, help you achieve your goal, or overcome a particular obstacle.

When you reach out to this person to ask for help, be sure to let them know that you appreciate them taking the time to work with you. If you approach with gratitude and positivity, they’ll be more enthusiastic about helping you.

5. Make a Specific Request

Be as specific as you can when requesting help. Don’t just share the issue you’re facing. Include the following details: 

  • A short overview of the problem, project, etc.
  • A brief list of solutions you’ve tried and why those options didn’t work
  • The kind of help you need (advice, physical assistance, access to a particular tool, etc.)
  • How soon you need a response

Sharing this information increases the likelihood that you’ll get the help you need. It also helps to streamline the process and saves you and the other person from having to send numerous messages back and forth.

6. Don’t Procrastinate

Generally, it’s a good idea to try to solve the problem yourself before running to someone else for assistance. Remember, nobody wants to help someone who hasn’t tried to help themselves first.

At the same time, you also shouldn’t procrastinate asking for help for too long. If you wait because you’re afraid of looking inept, you’ll create more problems and get yourself even further behind schedule. 

7. Be Willing to Help Others in Return

People also tend to be more willing to give help to those who have shown in the past that they’re eager to help others.

When someone comes to you for assistance, do what you can to help them out (or refer them to someone who is better equipped to help). It’ll allow you to win some brownie points with your coworkers. 

Start Asking for Help Today

Asking for help might feel embarrassing or impossible at first. The more you do it, though, the easier it’ll become — especially when you start seeing the benefits of seeking support rather than trying to figure everything out on your own.

Do you need help developing other habits that improve your performance and well-being at work? If so, check out the BetterYou app for assistance with setting and achieving your goals. 

Contact us today to schedule a demo.

Interested in learning more about how we can help your employee population improve their steps and sleep while reducing burnout?

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