Talaera Talks - Business English Communication

79. How to Ask for Help Professionally

January 10, 2023 Talaera Business English Communications Training Episode 79
Talaera Talks - Business English Communication
79. How to Ask for Help Professionally
Show Notes Transcript

Asking for help at work can be very scary. And yet, the vast majority of people who do great work (and get awarded for it) ask for advice and help from others. In this episode, Simon walks us through the different steps one should take to ask for help professionally.

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Simon Kennell  0:00  
Welcome back to another Talaera Bit! Wherever you are, I hope you're having a great day and a great start to your 2023. Last year was, yes, such a great experience. And we gained so many new listeners a lot of great feedback. So it's been amazing to watch our podcast grow and and all the help that we can give. 

Speaking of help, well, today, we're talking about how to ask for help. So maybe you're starting off the new year, and you realize you have a lot of big projects to do. And you're going to need some help to do them well, right? Well, asking for help is one of the scariest things that we can do. And there's a reason for this, actually, you know, asking for help, can lead to getting rejected, right? And rejection, this really can cause a lot of pain - actually in the same region in your brain as physical pain and trauma, that actually stores in the same place. So when we get rejected, we really hold on to that a lot. Because, you know, we're social animals, we don't want to be left out from the tribe, right? So. So we kind of tend to be a little bit risk averse, right, which means we don't, we don't want to take the risk too often. 

Well, you can ask for help. And you can do it in a professional way, that kind of softens the risk a little bit. And we're going to talk about that today. Asking for help is super, super important. I can't stress that enough. If you want to become a more effective, more collaborative employee, and you know, people who ask for help, they actually do really great work. And when you ask for advice, you can have a better end product, which, you know, reflects better on you, right? As well, it's a great way for helping to build trust in your team, especially when you're working remotely. This, you know, these little signals, they add up. And they really help, you know, create a culture of trust, which is, you know, critical for high performance. Along with this trust, right, building collaboration at work, improves productivity, it improves performance, and it improves, you know, a better work quality at the end of the day. So these are all really great opportunities and comes through asking for help. Now, where do we start? Right? 

Well, first, we have to think about the signals that are being sent. And a great way to start with asking for help is to actually be the one that provides help, or being the one that offers help. So, you know, if you come across opportunities to, you know, give feedback or to provide help, you know, do it because one of the things you're doing is you're you're signaling that the culture is a collaborative culture, right? 

And as well, right, if we give out favors, we can ask for favors in return. But how do we do that? Right? What's the what's the real key strategy when asking for help? Well, number one is we of course, want to be polite, right? And I don't necessarily mean polite in the way we ask, which, of course, we want to do that. But I really mean, being considerate in how you're asking for help. Now, we've probably had that experience where someone just comes up and dumps work on us, and asks for help. And in a way you feel like you can't say no, because you want to be that helpful person, but if the person just says, Hey, do you mind taking a look at this 300 page report before I send it out? You know, that's a lot of work. And, you know, if you have a hard time saying no, that can be, yeah, really, really detrimental to your own productivity. Right. So definitely not bombarding people with work or dumping your own work on people, right? 

Be considerate of people's time. And one of the best ways that we can do this is -really consider what you actually want. If I have a five-page report, but I'm kind of unsure about, you know, the specific section on page three. That's what I'm going to point out because I don't want to just say, Hey, Sam, do you mind taking a look at this report? And it's a five-page report that's going to take Sam 30 minutes to look through instead of saying, hey, Sam, do you mind taking a look at section three on page five? I have some questions around kind of how I'm pitching this product. Okay, so that's much more specific. And that's going to help out Sam a lot, right? So we want to be polite, we want to be helpful by providing context and providing clarity. So that's the first key point when asking for help. We want to be polite, by being helpful. And considering what we actually want. Specificity is key when we're asking for help. Because that's going to make it easier on the person you're asking help for. It's also going to get you what you want, right? So think about your... It's like you're asking for a gift for your birthday. You know you don't want to say, Oh, I just want to watch right? If you want a very specific watch, you need to ask for that watch. Otherwise, the person doesn't know what kind of watch to get you. So be specific. 

Now, after being specific, we want to soften our message a little bit, right? Because we don't want to just demand timelines and sound like, you know, we're assuming that they're going to help us right. So we do this by using the could you/would you. Do you mind? Can I ask for a favor? These structures are really helpful. Hey, Sam, do you mind taking a look at section three? On page five? I am really kind of unsure about the way that I broke down this pitch. Do you mind taking a look at it? Okay, so here I use these structures to ask Sam in a polite way to take a look at this section. 

But I also provided context, right? And that was that key point. So I didn't sound too demanding. I also considered the way that I came across with my tone, right? So usually when I'm asking my tone is going up a little bit. Hey, Sam, do you mind taking a look at this? Okay, so my tone is going up a little bit my tone if it's going down? Hey, Sam, do you mind taking a look at that? Okay, so that's a little bit different, right? My tone is going down, it sounds more demanding. So if the tone is going up, you're gonna sound a little bit more considerate. You can also mention that you're considerate of their time. You know, Sam, I'm not sure if you're, if you're the right person to ask about this. I'm kind of new. But you know, I'm having trouble with section three on page five. And, yeah, I really appreciate your time. I know you're busy. But I'm wondering if you could just help me out with a little bit of feedback on how I set that pitch up. So there I'm as well being considerate of Sam's time I'm being considerate, that, you know, he might or might not be the right person to talk to.

But I'm showing consideration there. So, again, number one, being polite by providing clarity, context, timeline, you know, being sure that you're specific as possible, think about the birthday gift, right? Explain if it's unclear why you came to them, right? So if this is great, if you're new, right? I'm not sure if you're the right person to ask or, you know, Hey, are you the right person to ask about this? I don't want to take your time. But I just had a question about this, right? So you can also use it as a as a as a great form of showing praise, right? Like, Hey, Sam, do you mind taking a look at this section, I saw what you did last week with your report. And I thought it was great. And I just just hoping that you'd be able to kind of help me out a little bit. Right. So this as well shows why you came to them and provide some nice context. And then right, so we've asked for help we've done the project or the report or whatever, if there is an opportunity to bring it up in the future in front of a group of people give credit where credit is due. This is so critical for several reasons. 

So if I handed the report, and the report gets brought up at a team meeting, I would take this time to stop there and say, Yeah, you know, I asked Sam for some feedback on part of the report. And it was really, really helpful. So I just want to kind of give credit where credit is due there. So thanks, Sam for that. But yeah, the report overall, I thought, you know, the client really, really liked it, and there was a lot of positive feedback. So me giving credit to Sam is not actually only about Sam, right, I want to give credit where credit's due, of course, but I also want to promote and signal to the rest of the the team, the company, what have you that this growth mindset, this collaborative culture, you know, is number one, it's allowed, right? You're allowed to ask for help. And number two, it's actually a great way to get a positive outcome on your work. Right. So this promotes this collaborative culture, this trust building culture that we really want to to strive for. Okay, so asking for help, there's a lot of really great ways to do it. If you're unsure about how to take these key kind of insights into consideration, right, being polite, by providing context, providing clarity, you know, being sure that you're using the kind of softeners so that you're not sounding too demanding. And then, you know, explaining why you came to them if it's unclear, and giving credit where credit is due, right. So these are some great tips that you can use, again, review a couple times, and test it out with a couple of closer colleagues before you ask people that you're a bit unfamiliar with. But again, asking for help is not giving up. It's refusing to give up because you're finding whatever resource you can to make sure that your product your work, is you know, exceptional, and it's at the level that you want. So thanks for listening. And, as always, keep learning.

Paola Pascual  11:28  
And that's all we have for you today. We hope you enjoyed it. And remember to subscribe to Talaera Talks. We'll be back soon with more.

Simon Kennell  11:37  
And visit our website at talaera.com for more valuable content on business English. You can also request a free consultation on the best ways for you and your team to improve your communication skills. So have a great day and keep learning.