Help Literacy Hub

7 tips on asking for help

AUTHOR: Dr Susan Palmer

1. Start with understanding all of the help you really need

When times get tough, it is often the build up of small things that can tip us over the edge.

While this feels awful at the time – it also means that asking for small acts of help can have a BIG impact.

So think of this as an OPPORTUNITY to ‘offload’ some of the smaller tasks you would normally need to deal with.

The first step in making this happen is to understand all of the small tasks you need to complete in order to keep your life (and the lives of your family) running – don’t forget to think about the frequency of these tasks and changes that occur throughout the week. For example, you may need to make meals every day but you only need the bedsheets changes once a week.

To help you create this list, have a look at the ‘task list’ within Gather My Crew. We have over 80 tasks listed under 8 categories.

Here are the top 10 help requests from Gather My Crew… Consider adding some of these to your list.

  1. Cook dinner
  2. Do the laundry
  3. Come for a visit
  4. Bake lunch snacks
  5. Transport to an appointment
  6. Take kids to school
  7. Walk the dog
  8. Make lunchboxes
  9. Take carer out
  10. Arrange a playdate

2. Turn offers of ‘let me know how I can help’ into meaningful support

So often people will say ‘let me know how I can help’…. and so often we just let that offer go.

So next time someone says this to you; (i) take a deep breath, (ii) assume the offer is genuine, and (iii) tell them exactly what help you need using the list of tasks you have created.

Most of the time people really do want to help – they just need to know what they need to do and when they need to do it.

3. New skills need to be learnt

Asking for help is a skill that we all must learn. Then we need to practice it over and over again.

So if you feel uncomfortable asking for help, because you don’t know how to bring it up or you are worried about how someone might react, it is OK.

If you have not done it before – of course it is natural that it feels awkward!

What you need to do is get out there and start practicing this new skill. Don’t give up on asking for help because it makes you feel uncomfortable.

If we gave up learning new skills because we felt awkward – then none of us would be able to ride a bike, write our name, or tie our shoelaces…

4. Remember that people lead busy lives

Even though it can feel terrible when you ask someone for help and they are not able to provide it for you – don’t give up.

Try not to take it personally. Take a deep breath and ask the next person.

You can also try giving each person a list of options so that they can pick when they are able to help you around their own busy lives.

Remember – most people want to help, they just need to know how and when.

5. If someone offers you specific help – say yes

Saying ‘yes’ to offers of help will open the door to more conversation, more offers of help and more connection to others when you are doing it tough.

You may find that if you say ‘no’ to genuine help when it is offered, people may be less forthcoming in the future. Don’t let that happen to you!

6. You might find it easier to ask someone to set up a help roster for you

A help roster is a way to keep track of all the things you need help with – and all of the wonderful ways that people have offered to help you.

While you can do this in a spreadsheet – using Gather My Crew makes the process so much easier.

7. Set up a Gather My Crew account for yourself

You do not need to wait for someone to create a help roster for you. We have made it so easy with Gather My Crew that all you will need to do it click a few buttons and invite some friends.

One of the great things about using Gather My Crew is that it removes the sometimes-awkward conversations required to ask for help.

All of our invites are sent out by SMS. Your friends accept your invite and can have a look at your calendar to decide when and how they can help.

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