It is a fact that men are unlikely to ask for directions, so much so that it has become a punchline of jokes. Some people say that the GPS became such a successful product for this reason and others point out that using a female voice for the GPS is just plain irony.
But it’s not just men; many women don’t like to ask for help anymore then most men. Last weeks blog “Asking for Help Doesn't Have to Be Hard” I wrote,
“This is what I say to my clients who tell me that they are uncomfortable asking for help: "Get over it if you want a job. It's a numbers game and you'll need to ask a lot of people for their help and advice in order to meet the person that knows about your job."
Recently, I’ve meet a number of people that voice this same issue about asking for help. So I asked myself and others why is this so hard? Let’s first point out that this isn’t only a problem for people in job search; it really is an issue for most of us at every stage of our careers. In fact, even as students it’s hard for us to ask for assistance or help. Still, why?
Fear of rejection Most commonly this seems a reason not to ask for someone’s help. Is this irrational? Normally If you ask people for help or advice they give it freely, willingly, with joy. Yet, folks will say to me, “What if they say no?” Of course, the response to that is, “What if they say yes!” if you don’t ask you’ll never learn what not being rejected feels like.
Feeling vulnerable Now, it is true that if we are asking for help, we are admitting that we need help. We are not strong enough, smart enough, connected enough to do it yourself. The irrational throught is, "If I have to ask for help, then I suck,” or something equally demeaning. However, I have never met the 100% perfect, totally fulfilled, absolutely self-reliant human being. In fact, many of the people that we look up to in sports, business or the media have been found cheating, using drugs or covering up because they couldn’t admit that they weren’t perfect. We all feel vulnerable, so what!
Owing someone Along with feeling vulnerable, people will say, “I don’t want to be beholden to someone else.” This really falls into the “I don’t want to feel vulnerable” camp. What if Great Britain said back in 1939 and 1940, we don’t want to be beholden to America so we’ll pass on Lend Lease. What if Google didn’t want to be beholden to a bunch of stock holders or if any company didn’t have public offerings of stock. Would a person whose house is on fire stop to consider whether or not owing the firefighters was worth making the call to 911? Pretty silly!
It’s Change I’m not used to asking people for help. Once upon a time, you and I weren’t used to walking, talking, driving or going to work; that didn’t stop us then. That’s what being human is all about. It’s about change and growth, and becoming better. Getting help, assistance, direction made it possible for us to walk, drive and succeed at work. Asking people for help and assistance now will drastically shorten your job search.
So asking for help is very human, very normal and appropriate. Asking for advise doesn’t make you appear weak or stupid. Asking for direction in your job search or any career choice is a great way to glean insights and wisdom and make a connection to another human being. So start asking for help and advice in your job search.