May 10, 2021

Why is It So Much Easier To Offer Help Than Accept It?

 


At one time or another, all of us need some type of help. We may be unsure about a financial decision. Something about our important relationship seems a bit off. A relative has a health problem we don't know enough about. The point is, none of us comes with a complete set of knowledge on every subject. So, we ask friends, experts in the field, even strangers on the Internet for some feedback.


Even knowing we could use some assistance doesn't mean it is easy for us. We love to give advice, we're not as anxious to receive it. I certainly needed help several times in my life, but was slow to ask. In looking back I have thought of some of the reasons. So you don't repeat my silliness here are some reasons why you shouldn't hesitate to seek and accept help when you need it (me, pay attention!). 


Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. From time to time, every one of us needs the advice or opinion of others. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, rather it is a sign of strength. You recognize a need and take an assertive step to fill it. A true leader knows his or her strengths and weaknesses and takes steps to shore up the areas that need reinforcement.


Asking for help allows you to tap into a large pool of knowledge. There are people who know a whole lot about something you don't. To seek out that advice, when you could benefit from it, is a smart thing to do. After all, if you are asking for help shouldn't you check the best source available? If you look closely you will notice that the most successful people surround themselves with other people stronger than they are in other areas.

 Most people love to be asked for their help. Unless you are asking a complete stranger, someone you approach to give you a helping hand will be quite willing to do so. If that person is qualified to advise you, then both of you will benefit. Don't worry about others judging you because you asked for their help. They are likely to think quite highly of you for turning to them for the advice!

Don't assume the person you need help from isn't willing to give it. Most of us are leery of imposing on a friend or someone who has experience solving your particular problem. We may rationalize they are probably much too busy to spend time with our issue. If that's your thought, re-read the section above.

Accept help or advice graciously. If you ask for help, it is not a good course of action to tell that person why his or her suggestions won't work. Remember, you asked them. Accept what they have to say and decide later if the answer will work for you. Even if a friend, co-worker, or spouse offers unsolicited advice, accept the offer to help with a smile. That person may have noticed something you didn't or has fresh insight. Ultimately, you decide whether to act on the suggested fix.

Ask for input before you are overwhelmed, frustrated, and angry. You won't be at your receptive best if whatever is bothering you has reached a critical stage. You will be looking for a quick fix that may do nothing to solve the underlying issue. You won't have the patience to explain the situation fully so the other person can give you good advice. Ask for help as soon as you are aware you need it. 

Finally, say thank you. People like to help other people. They also like to be acknowledged for that assistance. Someone went out of their way, probably invested some time in the problem, and gave you their best advice. Thank them, even if you don't plan on using the suggestions.



Many of us do everything we can to avoid admitting we could use assistance. We will knowingly make the situation worse before asking for help. I am living proof. At one point or another, I have ignored every single item listed above. I think I'm a bit smarter in my old age. I realize that asking for help is not an indication I'm weak. I hope this post will help you to avoid my mistakes.

Then, I will have been helpful.



p.s. today is my 72nd birthday. I feel lucky, blessed, and pretty good for an old rock 'n roller!

23 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday, Bob - rock on!

    One of the areas in which help and advice are frequently asked and readily shared is the field of international adoptions. The process is complex and time consuming. It can be physically, emotionally and financially draining for prospective adoptive parents as they work their way through requirements set by a foreign government as well as those instituted by state and federal agencies here in our country. Alan and I adopted our daughter (Kyra, now 22) from Russia when she was a year old. Due to difficulties beyond our control and that of our adoption agency, our adoption process was an unusually lengthy and difficult one. (The end result was definitely worth the effort!). The support network in the adoption community was phenomenal. Adoptive parents who had preceded us down this road were quick to lend a hand and answer every kind of question imaginable. We did the same for others following in our footsteps. "Pay it forward" was a theme in the adoption community long before it became popular at coffee shop drive-throughs. Because we had successfully completed such a difficult adoption, our adoption agency asked if we would mentor two other couples who were having a tough time, and we were happy to do it. In fact, even though they live in a different state, we were able to welcome one of the families to our home when they were passing through our area and we're still in touch with them twenty years later.

    I can't imagine how difficult life would be at certain times if we were unable to reach out for help, support and/or advice from others.

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    1. The adoption situation, particularly involving a child from another country, is a perfect example of when help is needed. Your story and how you used your experience to make it a bit less stressful for others is living proof of how we can offer aid, and accept it when offered.

      Thanks, for sharing Mary. I know of a few other couples who have adopted internationally and assume they experienced similar frustrations at the paperwork and time involved.

      And, yes, 20 years into my retirement, I must say I am doing well.

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    1. Free lunch and dinner today at participating restuarants!

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  3. Happy birthday Bob, I really enjoy your blog and never miss a post

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    1. I appreciate your well wishes and your readership!

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  4. Happy birthday! I count on you for awesome blog posts, so I wish you many good years ahead.

    Refusing to reach out for help, I think, is also about control. Egotism, fear and shame come together to prevent us from letting another take control of our situation. That becomes immediately evident to anyone who enters a 12-step program with open ears.

    As William James said, "You are in business for yourself, not by yourself."

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    1. You are right: we humans have a problem with control. In a world that is largely out of our power to dictate most of what happens, maybe the belief is that in this area I can exert control over giving and dispensing help.

      William James quote really highlights the fallacy of that attitude. If Covid has proven nothing else, it is that we need each other.

      My family has had several long-living members. I am hoping to meet my dad's 91 years!

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  5. Happy Birthday!

    I find it nearly impossible to ask for help. And its a toss up whether or not I'll accept it when offered.

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    1. Thank for for your honesty. You are not alone. Of course, that begs the follow-up question...why?

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    2. Certainly, I can't speak for Jean. But I will offer the comment that, as an introvert, protecting my privacy is an important issue.

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  6. Happy Birthday,you whippersnapper! I'm 73 so you've got some catching up to do! Thank you for all you do for us.

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    1. Give me a year, Bruce, and I'll be there. But, you have to stop right now!

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  7. If by "help" you mean just advice, I have never had any difficulty in asking for it. Perhaps it is more a male thing? I don't know. Anyway, I love asking other people what their experiences were in an area in which I'm interested. And pretty much everyone loves telling you.

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    1. I am thinking a bit more broadly than just advice, though that is important. As we age, physical help becomes more of a need. Are we able to ask someone else for a ride to the store or doctor? Can we accept aid in shoveling the front walk in the winter?

      It is probably more of a male thing; we are supposed to be the hunter-gathers who slay the lion and don't ask for help. That approach can get you eaten.

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  8. Happy Birthday Bob! May we all learn how to ask for help if and when we need it in the days ahead. ~Kathy

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. I struggle with asking for help so this post was really written with me in mind.

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  9. Happy Birthday!! And yes, learning to ask for help is a tough one for independent folks like us. I remember when I finally caved in and asked -- I was hanging on by my fingernails. Barely. I didn't need to wait so long, and I wouldn't have needed so much help had I asked earlier.

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    1. Sometimes we have to be backed up to a cliff before we see our way clear to reach for the hand right in front of us.

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  10. Happy Birthday Bob ! I have enjoyed reading your Blog regularly since I retired six years ago. I don't have much to add on asking for help other than to caution that it is important to carefully choose who you ask for help. Look at the fruit of their lives. I once asked a local Pastor for his opinion on how to deal with some nasty office politics I was tangled up in at work. He graciously gave me his views and opinions during an hour long discussion. About a year after I retired I learned that at the time he was giving me his helpful thoughts, he himself was behind some nasty internal politics that led to a deep split in his congregation and ultimately his departure for another position.

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    1. Know your source, right? That is an important point before deciding to follow someone's advice.

      Of course, in your case his advice might still have been sound. We can be better at what we say than what we can do.

      Thanks for your readership.

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  11. My best wishes for a very happy birthday. I think I must get my very elderly Mum to read your post. She epitomises the next stage of life where we try to be too independent for our own good.

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    1. We do tend to get fixed in our ways as we age, at a time of life when we are much more likely to need help. An unfortunate fact of life., but true. It takes real effort to change that tendency.

      Thanks for the kind wishes, Caree. Yesterday was a busy day, but productive.

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