By Raj Sheth
I was talking with some friends over a few drinks about an acquaintance that we all have in common on social media. He always seems to be where the action is, trying out fun new products and schmoozing with a lot of pretty awesome people. Yes, a large part of his envy-worthy lifestyle has to do with his profession, but as we talked, we realized that much of his success came because he’s simply not afraid to ask –for just about anything.
Now if you’re like me, your fear of being presumptuous or even rude will often override your urge to ask for things of others, especially those we work with. As I mulled over that conversation with my friends, I got to thinking about how many opportunities I’ve probably missed out on because I didn’t ask; situations that I could have improved, if I had spoken up.
Why don’t we ask for help when we need it?
Harris Interactive polled 1,019 employed Americans in their third annual Work Stress Survey, and found a 10% jump in workplace stress compared to just a year before. 83% of respondents are stressed at work, with “unreasonable workload” as the second top stressor. We have to get rid of this stifling idea that asking for help at work is a sign of weakness or failure. Start asking, and here’s why:
- Here’s a fact that will blow your mind –No one expects you to know everything.
- Showing everyone that you’ve put in extra effort, resources and work to still wind up needing help doesn’t get you any extra points, it means you’ve wasted time.
- Managers love hard work, but they hate inefficiency.
- Collaboration is plainly and simply a beautiful thing. Be a part of starting it.
Muse author, Jennifer Winters wrote a great piece on how to ask for help at work. Here’s what she said:
“The trick here is knowing when it’s time to suck it up, swallow your pride, and admit you’re stuck. My general rule of thumb is basically the “Three Strikes” rule. If I can’t figure something out after I’ve exhausted at least three other solutions on my own, it’s time to admit I need a little inspiration.”
Why don’t we ask for perks?
Whether it’s time off, flex work or even a bump in salary, everything is negotiable. That is to say, you also have to bring something to the table. When you honestly feel as though you have earned a freedom of some sort, you owe it to yourself and your hard work to inquire about incentives that would solicit the continuance of such hard work. This isn’t a, what came first, the chicken or the egg? scenario; the hard work and dedication is going to have to come first. If you get a big fat “No”, you have at the very least started the dialogue on how to get there. This conversation should be directed toward how your individual goals can align with the organization’s goals to obtain whatever it is that you’ve requested.
The old saying, “You never know unless you ask” is far truer than a lot of us anticipate. In an article on stay interviews and best retention practices, HR Director at Webroot, Melanie Williams reveals just how easy it can be for employees and companies to get on the same page when open communication is at play. Williams said:
“We’ve had very few stay interviews come in with pay being the thing that makes them stay or want to leave. There were not any requests that we haven’t been able to fulfill.”
Going back to the story –the opportunities that guy snags through his networking and willingness to inquire have all set him up with the experience he has needed to go onto the next endeavor. He’s experience and skill hungry, and that’s what drives him to ask.
Ask and see what happens. If what comes of it instead is collaboration or goal alignment, those are a couple of pretty great things to work with. You will either get what you ask for, or gain the knowledge on how to get it; neither will come by staying silent. While most organizations or even co-workers are out to please, they aren’t mind readers and they won’t know what’s important to you, unless you speak up and just ask.