It’s an old cliche that men won’t ask for directions (it’s also not true, as women are actually a little less likely to ask for directions on the road than men are).
Luckily, thanks to GPS, we really don’t have to ask for help to get around on the roads quite as often as we used to. However, we do still have plenty of asking to do in other areas of life.
If you’re in a relationship, you may be accustomed to talking only with your partner about life issues and relying on their feedback. It’s great to have that kind of positive relationship, but sometimes you need to be able to widen your net, to figure out how to ask for help and how to gain a new perspective from others.
1. Find someone you think you can trust
When you know it’s time to ask for help, you want to start with the right people. You may immediately think of talking to a family member or a close friend. While they can be excellent resources for sharing confidences or building relationships, you’re not limited to these folks alone when you’re asking for help.
Instead, you may find it’s easier to ask for help from a professional (like a counselor or therapist) or from a relatively new friend or acquaintance. It can sometimes be less intimidating to share information or to ask for help when your relationship isn’t weighed down by other baggage.
Consider talking with another man who demonstrates empathy or who has been in the same kind of situation you’re facing. Finding a group of men to connect with and openly share with can be really powerful and can give you an unprecedented ability to open up and to feel comfortable asking for help.
2. Realize it’s not about you
If you need to ask for help, that doesn’t affect your value as a person. It doesn’t mean you’re incompetent or that you can’t do things on your own.
Asking for help isn’t associated with your worth. Feeling like you don’t have anyone you can rely on for help isn’t your fault.
Our society and our work culture continue to pile on excessive demands, leaving us exhausted at the very thought of creating the connections we desperately need.
Asking for help is a wise choice and one that will pay dividends, whether you’re asking for support in your relationships, getting feedback on parenting, requesting mentoring on your career path or guidance on setting long-term goals.
3. Be willing to be vulnerable
Unfortunately, many men are socialized to believe that needing others is a sign of weakness and that being a vulnerable man is unmanly.
If you feel like you don’t know how to ask for help, it might be because you’ve internalized the message that asking for support or relying on interpersonal connections is unmanly.
Instead, try opening up and showing vulnerability whether you’re connecting with other men, a partner or a family member.
Vulnerability isn’t showing weakness. Instead, it’s expressing your true feelings, being open and leaning into whatever may happen, rather than keeping up walls to protect yourself from embarrassment, fear or rejection.
4. Stay calm
When you’re getting ready for a favor or figuring out how to ask for help, do you feel tension and anxiety creeping up on you? Anxiety typically occurs in this type of situation because by asking for help, you’re ceding control over an aspect of your life.
Don’t let it win, and don’t let it stop you from getting the support you need.
Work past it. Give yourself a few minutes to get calm, to think about what you want to say, and to build connection and rapport.
Yes, figuring out how to ask for help can be stressful, but it’s far more stressful to go through life without help and supportive connections with others.
5. Show gratitude and pass it forward
When you receive help from someone, doesn’t it feel like a burden has been lifted from your shoulders?
You can keep that feeling going by offering your help and support to others around you.
In our men’s groups, for example, men build circles of connection so they can share what they’ve learned and provide a support system for one another.
Once you’ve built a network where asking for help and getting support is natural, and where men are investing in each other’s success and wellbeing, you’ll have ready resources when you need to ask for help, and the opportunity to offer your own help and support to the men around you.
Help is Waiting for You
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