Asking For Help: Are You An A+ Or A D-?

Posted: June 2, 2014
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Asking for help doesn’t come easy. Here are some pointers on how you can avoid stress – by knowing when to ask for help, and how much.

“Stress” – That dreaded 6-letter word! Stress can be the cause and/or effect of many a physical ailment, emotional upheaval, mental discord and dissonance, financial turmoil, and lack of a social life. Stress can keep us awake all night. Stress can be the one single cause that prevents many of us from doing our best in life. Bottom line – stress can be manifested due to several things in life, and stress has many manifestations in our lives.

As I observe, converse, and interact with working women (especially working mothers) in India, I find that they are probably  the ‘most stressed out’ profile of people. The sheer diversity and complexity of issues women have to deal with on a regular basis is mind-boggling. Issues like demands of the workplace, office politics, marital discord, extra-marital affairs, new-age parenting and dealing with the children of today’s era, self-confidence, sheer anxiety of dealing with every-day operations (the house-help, the cooking, the home maintenance, etc.), exhaustion and health issues, dealing with expectations of family /extended family, lack of ‘me- time’, financial woes, depression, etc. Phew! Being a working woman does come with its fair share of challenges.

As I look back at my own career and life, I strongly believe that two things can help working women and mothers deal with stress.

1)      Learning to say NO.

2)      Asking for help. In this post, I’m going to share a few tips for working women, based on my personal experiences.

The easiest way to get help is to ask for it

“Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful,” said Ric Ocasek. Don’t be shy asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it only means you’re wise. A lot of us find it hard to ask for help. I speak from experience here!

Don’t be shy asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it only means you’re wise.

I don’t know if it is due to our culture, upbringing, education, or just the way we are wired. But I used to find it very, very hard to ask for help. Until I became a mother. Then, I realized that it would be impossible to survive without help. So, I asked for help. I used to feel very uncomfortable initially, but I learned over time. Today, I don’t think twice. So, the important take-aways are:

  • Be clear about what exactly you want help for. For e.g: “I need help at home in the morning” versus “I need help from 7 AM to 8 AM to help me with cooking”
  • Sometimes the best way to ask for help is to understand “how to do it”, and “how to get it done”

Too much help can be dangerous

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm; as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.” said Audrey Hepburn. While asking for help is great, I know of too many women who ask for help for everything under the sun. To the extent that they just cannot do even basic things themselves.

I know of women who don’t know how to draw money from an ATM or where and how to buy vegetables! When you try and do something yourself, there is great learning in the experience. And with learning, comes growth and self-confidence. So, the important take-away

  • Think before you ask for help. Answer honestly whether the reason you are asking for help is due to lack of time, lack of ability, or just your habit of asking for help

No shame in asking for professional help

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” said Ronald Reagan.

A lot of us are uncomfortable about hiring professional help for many things. Reasons range from lack of awareness on the kind of services in the market, to it being the first time you are asking for help, to ‘that is just not the way it is always done’.

A lot of us are uncomfortable about hiring professional help for many things. Reasons range from lack of awareness on the kind of services in the market, to it being the first time you are asking for help, to ‘that is just not the way it is always done’.

As an example, most Indian homes go through the annual house-cleaning exercise during a festival like Diwali. It takes time, effort, can be exhausting, and most of the time you’re not happy with the outcome. Last year, we hired professional cleaners for the job. They did a fantastic job and the house looked sparkling clean. It came at a price we were willing to pay. We wondered why we had not done it before.

There are so many interesting services out there, and so many service models which provide help. So, the important take-away:

  • Be aware of the kind of services in the market for different things. Read, speak to people, and share your issues / solutions.
  • Be clear on how much you are willing to pay for a service

Self-Help is the best help

To help yourself, you must be yourself. Be the best that you can be. When you make a mistake, learn from it, pick yourself up and move on.” said Dave Pelzer.  So, the important take-away

  • Before you ask for help, try doing it yourself
  • Sometimes, the best help is to find effective ways to do things. There is no need to re-invent the wheel for everything! Someone somewhere has done it before. Try to re-use the approach/methodology in your own context
  • Sometimes not to help someone is the best help

So as I sign off, I leave you with a few questions: Do you ask for help? NEVER? Hmm…You get a D-. ALWAYS? Hmm… You get a D-.  Sometimes, based on the need/situation? Great!  You get an A+.

Can you do better?

Pic credit: bottled_void (Used under a CC license)

First published at Sheroes

Working Mom • Marketologist - Digital Artisan - Brand Storyteller • Ideapreneur • Writer - Blogger - Columnist • IIMB Alumni • Mentor • Horizon

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