How did the past 7 days go for you? For me they were even busier than I anticipated…some last minute on-campus admissions staff training, prepping for a couple NACAC affiliate conferences, recording a podcast episode, and a ton of phone call strategy sessions with clients and non-clients. It was a full 7-day work week, and a really fun and rewarding one at that.
Yesterday as I was scrolling through my notes and contemplating what I wanted to write about and help you with this week, I got an unscheduled phone call from a first year admission counselor at a client school. When I hit the red, call-end button on my iPhone, I knew exactly what we needed to discuss today. It’s something that a lot of people struggle with, and it’s a subject that, while uncomfortable for many, is something that I believe is worthy of the next 5 minutes of your time if you’ll give it to me. Plus, when I’ve written about personal growth and staff development in the past, many readers of this newsletter have told me it really helped them/their team take a step back and evaluate. I’m hoping today’s article will do the same because this is something that stalls the growth process in all of us.
The gist of that conversation with the admission counselor was this – He wanted to know how to go about asking colleagues for help with something without sounding like an idiot (his words).
Have you ever had that same feeling at work, with friends, or at home? Asking for help from colleagues, friends, your spouse, your parents, or maybe even your kids is something that a lot of us have trouble doing.
Too many people have a defensive wall up about asking for help. Even worse, others believe they don’t have trouble asking for help when they really do. Let me make my feelings clear in case you’re a first time reader or you haven’t read my articles in a while. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Why is everyone so scared? Here are some reasons I hear frequently during phone calls and 1-on-1 meetings that accompany our on-campus training workshop:
- I don’t want to look stupid
- The other person will think I’m selfish
- I’ll owe the other person something
- I’m a leader and my team will think I can’t do my job
- I don’t want people to know how bad the situation is
- I’ll be giving up all control
- I should know how to do this project or handle this situation
- People will think I’m lazy and just don’t want to put in the work
- I don’t want the perception to be that I’m struggling or failing
- I’m worried that the person I need to ask for help will screw everything up, make the situation worse, or get more credit than they deserve (I hear this one a lot from coaches about admissions and admissions about coaches)
Raise your hand if any of those sound familiar. (My hand is up in case you were wondering).
Regardless of the reason(s) behind why we don’t ask for the help we need, the bottom line is we have to get past that. Nobody, and I mean nobody who is a successful person in Higher Education or any other profession got where they are alone.
Asking for help is a smart strategy, especially if it’s help with something that isn’t your strong suit. To do that, though, you have to be self aware and honest with yourself. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Can you admit what yours are and aren’t?
I would also add that you have to know which colleagues to ask for help in a specific situation (i.e. the right person for the job), and you need to frame your “ask” properly.
The big danger when you don’t ask for help is that stalling can cause the situation to grow from a problem into a crisis. On top of that, not asking for help can cause way too much time to be spent on a task when your energy and focus are needed elsewhere.
How often you ask is going to depend on a number of factors. I definitely don’t want you to take the easy way out and ask every time you stumble. I do, however, want you to become self aware enough to know when help is needed.
So ask a colleague, a friend, a family member, or I’m reminding you that you can ask me…just please be willing to ask somebody the next time you need help.
Do you agree with me? Either way I’d love to hear what you think about this important subject! You can email me or connect with me right now on social media (icons are at the top of this article).