May 25, 2015

5 Benefits of asking for help

Frequently, I have heard people say: "I'd rather not ask for help. I think I have to solve this myself." This way of this thinking surely has something admirable and sympathetic about it. Probably, people saying such things have a strong sense of responsibility. They think they should be able to solve their problem on their own without bothering other people. But I think it is good to be aware of another way of viewing asking for help. Asking for help can have many benefits, especially for yourself, but also for other people. Here are a few benefits of asking for help:

1. Help by other people can help you make progress better and faster. A simple and obvious benefit of asking for help is that other people can help you move forward. If you think about in what area you could use some help and ask someone who has the right knowledge, skills, resources, or connections, you increase your chances of learning and of making progress. Other people might teach you things, give you information, introduce you to other people, and remove obstacles for you.

2. Asking for help reinforces a growth mindset in yourself. Perhaps a less obvious example of a benefit of asking for help is the following. If you take the step of asking someone for help you implicitly say to yourself that you are not infallible and that asking for help is allowed, useful, and normal.  Asking for help is an important part of a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset often see it as sign of a lack of ability while people with a growth mindset often see it as a sensible step forward. By asking for help, it becomes easier to view yourself as someone with a growth mindset.

3. Asking for help increase your relatedness with others. Research within self-determination theory has shown that a need for relatedness is a lifelong and universal basic psychological need. This need for relatedness means the following: people want to have meaningful and caring relationships with other people. In such relationships we want to both give care to others and to be cared for by others. Asking for help strengthens the relatedness with others. It gives you an opportunity to receive attention and help from another person and it thereby satisfies your need for relatedness.

4. Asking for help can make you grateful. When you have received useful help you are likely to feel grateful. Feeling and expressing gratefulness appears to be good for us. Recent neuroscientific research suggests that feeling grateful has several positive effects such as the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, improvement of sleep, reduction of stress and physical complaints, and the reduction of fear and depression (Korb, 2015).

5. Asking for help can be pleasant for the person you ask for help. Virtually everybody has a strong drive for helping other people (cf. Lieberman, 2014). By asking for help, you provide the other person with an opportunity to do something meaningful for another person and experience gratification because of this. Furthermore, asking for help is way of implicitly praising the other person. Because, by asking for help, you imply that you trust the other person and view him or her as able to help you and therefore as a competent person.

Question: I have no doubt there are more benefits of asking for help. If you can think of other benefits I would be interested to hear what they are. Do let me know.

Suggestion: Think about something with which you could use some help and think of whom might be able and willing to help you. Ask that person for help and pay attention to whether the things I have described above happen.

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