“Umm…I have a favor to ask”. Believe it or not, these are some of the hardest words for me. As much as helping others makes me feel good, I have a hard time asking others for help. Yet I also recognize that being willing to ask people for favors is a key enabler for us to meet our goals. Here are three mindsets that keep us from asking others to help us and how to overcome them.
Asking for Favors is Tough
I was recently doing a speaking engagement on the topic of “Getting Sponsored To the Top“. In the workshop, I shared data about how women have a very different view of work relationships than men. While most men are “strategic” about building work relationships in order to serve their goals, women tend to view relationships as the goal. Significantly more women than men have trouble asking friends and colleagues for help in closing business deals or landing a job.
Three Mindsets That Keep us from Asking
1) What if they say “No” – We’re afraid to ask for a favor because we don’t want to hear a “No”. When someone says “No” we feel rejected. It’s a rejection of us rather than the rejection of the favor. I know I’ve personally felt hurt when someone has said “No” to the favor I mustered up courage to ask for. We need to reframe the “No” as “No” to the favor and not “No” to us. If we assume a “No” means “I can’t help you with this favor right now”, we will be willing to make more asks. Making more asks increases the odds of getting more help to meet our goals!
2) I don’t want to bother someone by asking them for a favor – Underneath this mindset is the assumption that it would bother someone to help us. Think about the last time someone asked you for help. How did you feel? If you’re like me, you likely felt flattered that someone would think highly of you to ask for help. It’s great for the ego! We need to reframe this mindset by assuming that asking others for help actually helps them feel good about themselves. Think about asking others for help as part of your public service to them!
3) If I ask for help, it must mean I’m not good enough to do it myself – As someone who is guilty of being fiercely independent, this is a mindset I need to practice overcoming all the time. I often catch the unconscious 2-year old toddler within me saying “I can do it all by myself”. “Yes you can”, I tell her, “but sometimes it’s just more fun doing something with others”. Who knows what a few different brains can come up with?
What are the mindsets that stand in your way? The next time you’re wondering whether to make an ask, dig underneath about the assumption you’re making about the situation. Confirm whether this assumption is true. If someone says “No”, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Don’t let them take away your power to make an ask.
Now I ask you to practice. Make a list of asks and see which of the mindsets above stand in your way. Reframe them and make the ask. Look at it like a science experiment and don’t take it so personally. Be sure to ask what you can do to reciprocate.
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