Help Me! Communicating When You Need Help

helpThe number one reason why college students fail, drop out, don’t complete their education is that they don’t ask for help when it’s needed!  College, along with many other new tasks, is hard and a foreign experience to all new freshmen – yet there is a reluctance to put their hand up and request the needed assistance in a timely manner.  This happens even though there is lots of money at risk and plenty of help available.

I have been working with a young (24 yr old) client and whenever I say something (“You know what this means, right?”) he readily nods and agrees with me (“Of course”).  After several rounds of this, I finally said, “You really don’t know what I’m talking about, do you?”  And he admitted that he didn’t.  Another case of not acknowledging when you need help.

When I was young and foolish (also in my early 20s) I thought I could swim way beyond my actual abilities.  So without telling anyone of my intentions, I tried to swim across a small lake at a company outing.  Well water distances can be deceiving to the eye, and only at the half way point did I realize that I was in trouble and in danger of drowning.  It literally took a brush with death for me to admit the possibility of failure (the expression “I’ll die trying” was only too real) and cry out for help.

So why is it so hard for some people/most people to ask for help when they are drowning (usually figuratively)?  As I pointed out to my young client, it’s due to him not wanting to appear stupid (which he agreed was the reason), equally true of college students.  The fragile ego doesn’t want to take a beating and let the world know just how inadequate he is for the challenge, and so they take the easy route of ‘fake it until you make it’ – but making it may or may not happen.

There is nothing at all wrong with asking for help.  It’s really the smart thing to do, heeding the wisdom of the cliché ‘no need to reinvent the wheel’.  When another who has experience can help out and wants to render assistance, the smart and time efficient person quickly asks and accepts the help, with proper gratitude.

And most people want and enjoy helping others out – they love being asked and wait for the opportunity to jump in with their expertise (“I thought you’d never ask!”).  Why?  Because it stokes their ego to be allowed to demonstrate their knowledge and allows them to feel good about their ability to help another in need.  So put up your hand and ask already!  You know you need the help, in some area.

COMMUNICATION TAKEAWAY:  Asking for help when needed requires leaving your ego at the door (for some) but can be a real life saver, and certainly a big time saver.  The other bonus is that people love to be asked – for their help, for their advice, for their opinion.  Win-win, but ya gotta ask.

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