Life Lessons in Asking For Help

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I’ve never really had trouble asking for help. I’m not one of those people who have to try things for myself and fail first. If I approach something and I’m not sure how to do it, I ask for help. If I feel overwhelmed by a task, I ask for help. I push past any shame or guilt of not knowing and I ask for help. But even though it’s not an issue for me, I know that many women struggle with this. Guilt in asking often stems from the roles we play—mommy, strong friend, or as a woman feeling the need to be “twice as good”—which explains why Black women, in particular, struggle to remove the strong woman cape and ask for the help we need. Don’t go it alone; use the tools below to confidently ask for help.

Clearly Articulate Your Needs.

Choosing to go at it alone causes us to resent everyone in our lives for not noticing our struggle or offering to help; it just isn’t the move. Clearly articulate that you need help in three simple steps: 

  1. State your need. “I have an event on Tuesday and I don’t have anyone to check guests in when they arrive.”

  2. Tell the person you’re asking, how exactly they can help you. “Check in requires being available 2-3:30 P.M., greeting and welcoming guests to the event, checking their tickets, and showing them to their seats.”

  3. Ask for their help and share details. “Are you available on Tuesday to help me with this?”

Avoid placing blame or using guilt trips such as, “You never help me” or “I’m so exhausted.” No one wants to be guilted into doing something kind and supporting you.

Be Ready to Teach and Train.

If you’ve ever heard yourself saying, “By the time I get someone to help me, I could do it myself,” then you may be stressed by the idea of providing instructions or walking someone through a task. A DIY mentality may work in a few cases, but if you document a process once, you can share it with anyone and reuse it multiple times. Earlier this year I hired a virtual assistant for my Schoolin Life projects. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t just say, “I need help; do this for me,” but I had to explain how and why sometimes. Make sure you have standard operating procedures at home and at work, that clearly explain how others can help you. It’ll make it easier for both of you.


Allow yourself to accept the help.

Even with the clearest instructions, no one will ever do a task like you would do the task and that is OK. Be gracious enough to accept help and allow your helpers to be creative in their application. Being rigid with anyone who is willing to share their time and talents won’t get you far. Allow anyone offering support to provide feedback and advice; better yet, solicit it. Maybe you’ll learn something or maybe they’ll see themselves in the work and want to volunteer again. 

It’s challenging to ask for help, but what’s more challenging is going at it alone and becoming burned out and resentful of those you love. Ask for the help you need.

Ashlee Nicole1 Comment