“Asking for help is not a burden nor a sign of weakness; it is a sign of humanness.” – Joan Rosenberg, Ph.D., psychologist, and professor at Pepperdine University.
Why is it so difficult for us to ask other people for help — be it a friend, colleague, or stranger? The sheer thought of it creates anxiety and stress for us.
Asking for help is uncomfortable. We do not want to appear weak. We do not wish to impose on anyone.
We do not want to risk being embarrassed or humiliated if people say no. Or worse, we worry that others will judge us if we request their assistance with any matter.
Psychology of Helping Others
The problem lies in the fact that our society dictates that we should be strong, independent, and self-reliant.
In reality, we can make our lives so much simpler by enlisting the aid of others now and then.
Studies conducted by Frank Flynn at Stanford GSB indicate that not only are people not asking for help when they can get it, but they are not encouraging others to come to them for help though they are willing to offer it.
We get a wonderful feeling when we contribute meaningfully to someone else — a term called elevation. Even a simple act such as letting other people with fewer items go ahead of you in the grocery checkout line or spreading the word about a business or organization gives us a “warm glow.”
We feel a sense of gratification when we help others. Helping others satisfies one of our most basic psychological needs— our sense of relatedness to others.
By the same token, if we ask others for help, it makes them feel better about themselves and gives them a sense of self-worth. Not to mention, it is also an ego boost for them.
My personal experience has proved that if I ask someone for help, more often than not, they are more than willing to comply.
My father taught me to ask for what I want and never assume that people would not be willing to oblige.
I recall receiving a summons to appear for jury duty several years earlier when my children were little. I had been summoned to appear in a circuit court in the middle of summer — a time of year when we would ordinarily go on vacation.
I grumbled to Dad about how inconvenient it would be because of the timing. With two young kids at home for the summer holidays, my husband would have to take time off work for an extended period if I was selected as a juror.
On his advice, I rang up the courthouse and inquired if I could transfer from a circuit court that was quite a distance from the house to a district court close to home.
I also asked if they could move up my date as I preferred to serve as a juror earlier in the summer rather than later. Much to my surprise, they granted me both my requests.
Following the incident mentioned above, I no longer feared asking others for help. Whenever I needed anything, I did not hesitate to ask for assistance.
It could be something simple: asking someone for directions or asking a store clerk for a specific item in the store. It saved me so much time and energy.
The above also applies to our daily life. If we are not satisfied with a service we received in a restaurant, beauty salon, bank, or what have you, we should be more assertive and ask for what we want.
It is that simple. It is in the best interests of the employee/owner of the business to comply with our request or at least to work with us to come up with different ways we can resolve the issue.
Remember, the next time you require help, do not be afraid to reach out to someone and ask for it.
In turn, let others know you will be more than happy to help them as well. In this way, we can all do our part to make the world a better place.
What are your thoughts on asking others for help? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
B.R. Shenoy is a married mother of two. She has a B.S. in biochemistry and an M.S. in chemical toxicology. She is a former expat in Brazil, France, and Japan. She is a regular writer for The Good Men Project. Her work has also appeared in Scary Mommy, Positively Positive and Idle Inks. She is a blogger on Medium and Vocal Media. You can follow her on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Anna Shvets.