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  • Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Camille Martínez

  • So, asking for help is basically the worst, right?

  • I've actually never seen it on one of those top ten lists

  • of things people fear,

  • like public speaking

  • and death,

  • but I'm pretty sure it actually belongs there.

  • Even though in many ways it's foolish for us to be afraid to admit we need help,

  • whether it's from a loved one or a friend or from a coworker

  • or even from a stranger,

  • somehow it always feel just a little bit uncomfortable and embarrassing

  • to actually ask for help,

  • which is, of course, why most of us try to avoid asking for help

  • whenever humanly possible.

  • My father was one of those legions of fathers

  • who, I swear, would rather drive through an alligator-infested swamp

  • than actually ask someone for help getting back to the road.

  • When I was a kid, we took a family vacation.

  • We drove from our home in South Jersey to Colonial Williamsburg.

  • And I remember we got really badly lost.

  • My mother and I pleaded with him

  • to please just pull over and ask someone for directions back to the highway,

  • and he absolutely refused,

  • and, in fact, assured us that we were not lost,

  • he had just always wanted to know what was over here.

  • (Laughter)

  • So if we're going to ask for help --

  • and we have to, we all do, practically every day --

  • the only way we're going to even begin to get comfortable with it

  • is to get good at it,

  • to actually increase the chances that when you ask for help from someone,

  • they're actually going to say yes.

  • And not only that, but they're going to find it actually satisfying

  • and rewarding to help you,

  • because that way, they'll be motivated to continue to help you into the future.

  • So research that I and some of my colleagues have done

  • has shed a lot of light on why it is that sometimes people say yes

  • to our requests for help

  • and why sometimes they say no.

  • Now let me just start by saying right now:

  • if you need help,

  • you are going to have to ask for it.

  • Out loud.

  • OK?

  • We all, to some extent, suffer from something that psychologists call

  • "the illusion of transparency" --

  • basically, the mistaken belief

  • that our thoughts and our feelings and our needs

  • are really obvious to other people.

  • This is not true, but we believe it.

  • And so, we just mostly stand around waiting for someone to notice our needs

  • and then spontaneously offer to help us with it.

  • This is a really, really bad assumption.

  • In fact, not only is it very difficult to tell what your needs are,

  • but even the people close to you often struggle to understand

  • how they can support you.

  • My partner has actually had to adopt a habit

  • of asking me multiple times a day,

  • "Are you OK? Do you need anything?"

  • because I am so, so bad at signaling when I need someone's help.

  • Now, he is more patient than I deserve

  • and much more proactive, much more, about helping

  • than any of us have any right to expect other people to be.

  • So if you need help, you're going to have to ask for it.

  • And by the way, even when someone can tell that you need help,

  • how do they know that you want it?

  • Did you ever try to give unsolicited help to someone who, it turns out,

  • did not actually want your help in the first place?

  • They get nasty real quick, don't they?

  • The other day -- true story --

  • my teenage daughter was getting dressed for school,

  • and I decided to give her some unsolicited help about that.

  • (Laughter)

  • I happen to think she looks amazing in brighter colors.

  • She tends to prefer sort of darker, more neutral tones.

  • And so I said, very helpfully,

  • that I thought maybe she could go back upstairs

  • and try to find something a little less somber.

  • (Laughter)

  • So, if looks could kill,

  • I would not be standing here right now.

  • We really can't blame other people for not just spontaneously offering to help us

  • when we don't actually know that that's what is wanted.

  • In fact, actually, research shows

  • that 90 percent of the help that coworkers give one another in the workplace

  • is in response to explicit requests for help.

  • So you're going to have to say the words "I need your help." Right?

  • There's no getting around it.

  • Now, to be good at it,

  • to make sure that people actually do help you when you ask for it,

  • there are a few other things that are very helpful to keep in mind.

  • First thing: when you ask for help,

  • be very, very specific about the help you want and why.

  • Vague, sort of indirect requests for help

  • actually aren't very helpful to the helper, right?

  • We don't actually know what it is you want from us,

  • and, just as important,

  • we don't know whether or not we can be successful

  • in giving you the help.

  • Nobody wants to give bad help.

  • Like me, you probably get some of these requests

  • from perfectly pleasant strangers on LinkedIn

  • who want to do things like "get together over coffee and connect"

  • or "pick your brain."

  • I ignore these requests literally every time.

  • And it's not that I'm not a nice person.

  • It's just that when I don't know what it is you want from me,

  • like the kind of help you're hoping that can I provide,

  • I'm not interested.

  • Nobody is.

  • I'd have been much more interested if they had just come out and said

  • whatever it is was they were hoping to get from me,

  • because I'm pretty sure they had something specific in mind.

  • So go ahead and say,

  • "I'm hoping to discuss opportunities to work in your company,"

  • or, "I'd like to propose a joint research project

  • in an area I know you're interested in,"

  • or, "I'd like your advice on getting into medical school."

  • Technically, I can't help you with that last one

  • because I'm not that kind of doctor,

  • but I could point you in the direction of someone who could.

  • OK, second tip.

  • This is really important:

  • please avoid disclaimers, apologies and bribes.

  • Really, really important.

  • Do any of these sound familiar?

  • (Clears throat)

  • 'I'm so, so sorry that I have to ask you for this."

  • "I really hate bothering you with this."

  • "If I had any way of doing this without your help, I would."

  • (Laughter)

  • Sometimes it feels like people are so eager to prove

  • that they're not weak and greedy when they ask your for help,

  • they're completely missing out on how uncomfortable

  • they're making you feel.

  • And by the way -- how am I supposed to find it satisfying to help you

  • if you really hated having to ask me for help?

  • And while it is perfectly, perfectly acceptable

  • to pay strangers to do things for you,

  • you need to be very, very careful when it comes to incentivizing

  • your friends and coworkers.

  • When you have a relationship with someone,

  • helping one another is actually a natural part of that relationship.

  • It's how we show one another that we care.

  • If you introduce incentives or payments into that,

  • what can happen is, it starts to feel like it isn't a relationship,

  • it's a transaction.

  • And that actually is experienced as distancing,

  • which, ironically, makes people less likely to help you.

  • So a spontaneous gift

  • after someone gives you some help to show your appreciation and gratitude --

  • perfectly fine.

  • An offer to pay your best friend to help you move into your new apartment

  • is not.

  • OK, third rule,

  • and I really mean this one:

  • please do not ask for help

  • over email or text.

  • Really, seriously, please don't.

  • Email and text are impersonal.

  • I realize sometimes there's no alternative,

  • but mostly what happens is,

  • we like to ask for help over email and text

  • because it feels less awkward for us to do so.

  • You know what else feels less awkward over email and text?

  • Telling you no.

  • And it turns out, there's research to support this.

  • In-person requests for help are 30 times more likely to get a yes

  • than a request made by email.

  • So when something is really important and you really need someone's help,

  • make face time to make the request,

  • or use your phone as a phone --

  • (Laughter)

  • to ask for the help that you need.

  • OK.

  • Last one, and this is actually a really, really important one

  • and probably the one that is most overlooked

  • when it comes to asking for help:

  • when you ask someone for their help and they say yes,

  • follow up with them afterward.

  • There's a common misconception that what's rewarding about helping

  • is the act of helping itself.

  • This is not true.

  • What is rewarding about helping is knowing that your help landed,

  • that it had impact,

  • that you were effective.

  • If I have no idea how my help affected you,

  • how am I supposed to feel about it?

  • This happened; I was a university professor for many years,

  • I wrote lots and lots of letters of recommendation

  • for people to get jobs or to go into graduate school.

  • And probably about 95 percent of them,

  • I have no idea what happened.

  • Now, how do I feel about the time and effort I took to do that,

  • when I really have no idea if I helped you,

  • if it actually helped you get the thing that you wanted?

  • In fact, this idea of feeling effective

  • is part of why certain kinds of donor appeals are so, so persuasive --

  • because they allow you to really vividly imagine

  • the effect that your help is going to have.

  • Take something like DonorsChoose.

  • You go online, you can choose the individual teacher by name

  • whose classroom you're going to be able to help

  • by literally buying the specific items they've requested,

  • like microscopes or laptops or flexible seating.

  • An appeal like that makes it so easy for me to imagine

  • the good that my money will do,

  • that I actually get an immediate sense of effectiveness

  • the minute I commit to giving.

  • But you know what else they do?

  • They follow up.

  • Donors actually get letters from the kids in the classroom.

  • They get pictures.

  • They get to know that they made a difference.

  • And this is something we need to all be doing in our everyday lives,

  • especially if we want people to continue to give us help

  • over the long term.

  • Take time to tell your colleague that the help that they gave you

  • really helped you land that big sale,

  • or helped you get that interview that you were really hoping to get.

  • Take time to tell your partner that the support they gave you

  • really made it possible for you to get through a tough time.

  • Take time to tell your catsitter

  • that you're super happy that for some reason,

  • this time the cats didn't break anything while you were away,

  • and so they must have done a really good job.

  • The bottom line is:

  • I know -- believe me, I know --

  • that it is not easy to ask for help.

  • We are all a little bit afraid to do it.

  • It makes us feel vulnerable.

  • But the reality of modern work and modern life

  • is that nobody does it alone.

  • Nobody succeeds in a vacuum.

  • More than ever, we actually do have to rely on other people,

  • on their support and collaboration, in order to be successful.

  • So when you need help, ask for it out loud.

  • And when you do, do it in a way that increases your chances

  • that you'll get a yes

  • and makes the other person feel awesome for having helped you,

  • because you both deserve it.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Camille Martínez

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A2 US TED email helping helped laughter people

【TED】Heidi Grant: How to ask for help -- and get a "yes" (How to ask for help -- and get a "yes" | Heidi Grant)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2019/07/25
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