It's hard to ask for help. Pride isn't necessarily admirable, but our smarts and hard work helped us get here... and admitting that we need help might make us look weak, right? Wrong -- in fact, just the opposite is true.
I have a good friend named Mike Robbins. Mike played baseball for the Kansas City Royals organization before becoming an author and professional speaker. Mike is known as an expert on appreciation, and his take on asking for help is simple but brilliant. His theory was so clear and succinct that I asked him for permission to include it in this blog. Mike says that asking for help takes a good balance of both confidence and humility. "You have to make it easy for others to help you, then you have to work hard to show that you value the help you were given. Don't be too stubborn to ask for it, or too obnoxious when asking." This may seem like common sense, but after you get help, thank the person. A nice note or e-mail does the trick. "Explain how their help directly helped you and that you appreciate it." People want to contribute to the success of confident people -- it enriches their lives, too.
Here's an example. It's a Friday afternoon in February. Your flight has been cancelled because of snow and you're stuck in O'Hare trying to get on the next flight back home. You could scream and shout at the agent, telling her how important you are and how you demand to be on the next flight. Think you'll get a seat? Unless you're the CEO of that airline, your chances aren't good.
If you were to follow Mike's advice on being humble but confident, you would go about it differently. You would start with humility by acknowledging that the agent is in a stressful situation and that you could really use her expert help. You want to get home to your family and would love to do so without putting her out too much. Next comes confidence. You travel a lot and experience reminds you that there might be another way to get home. You think that the non-stop is booked, but maybe if you jump on another flight through New York, you could still make it home tonight. Your kind nature and air of confidence will win her over as an ally, and even if your plan won't work, she’ll do everything she can to get you home. Regardless of the outcome, imagine the impact of sending her a short but sincere note of thanks after you land.
Don't let your pride get in the way -- asking for help is a great thing. It's not just about the benefits to you. Handled properly, the person who helps you will be fulfilled by contributing to your success. Recognize your request as mutually beneficial and sincerely acknowledge the value your helper brings, and you'll get what you need every time.