Haupz Blog

... still a totally disordered mix

Asking for Help

2023-04-01 — Michael Haupt

It often seems hard to ask for help, right? The article lists a broad range of possible reasons (quasi-quotes with slight paraphrases): they’re busy, they’ll be annoyed, I should know this, I’ll learn more by figuring it out myself, I’ve waited too long and it will look like long time no progress, they might not know and I’ll embarrass them, people might think I’m stupid, I should try longer and then ask if I’m still stuck.

Sound familiar? If so, read the whole thing; it offers a lot of advice as well.

I’d like to expand on the two final points a bit, from a cultural perspective.

People might think I’m stupid. So what? Not knowing something, I’m facing a choice: looking stupid, or staying stupid. I’ll err on the side of the former. If someone thinks I’m stupid just because I don’t know something and ask for help, that says a lot more about them than it does about me. I don’t need their approval, I need their knowledge.

I should try longer and then ask if I’m still stuck. This is a classic, it's hard to get this right. If the environment is unwelcoming and prides itself in street credibility by knowing everything, the time to ask for help is never right, because eye rolling will ensue no matter how much research you've done yourself. (See my previous remark.)

Surprise: you might be part of that culture. So, observe yourself next time someone asks you for help. What is your gut reaction? Annoyance? Eye rolling? Do you think the other person should have looked a bit more?

Tags: work