Don’t Be Scared to Ask for What You Need at Work

Asking for help is an important part of being an osteopath, but for some reason we’re often afraid to ask for help. Let’s discuss why you shouldn’t be.
Don’t Be Scared to Ask for What You Need at Work

Don’t Be Scared to Ask for What You Need at Work

It can be challenging, and sometimes scary, to ask for what you need from someone at work. But in every relationship, it’s important to voice your needs. Whether you’re an associate or principal, we all have things we want to ask of each other. This is why you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help at work.

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What helpers need

Before we dive in, it’s important to wear the shoes of someone who is in a position to help. In most cases, this is essential reading for clinic principals or practice managers. But it’s important for associates to understand that your principal may ask for your help too.

How To Get The Help You Need by the Harvard Business Review expertly explains what those who decide to help should recognise in those who ask for help.

The helper must realise that you need help

Human beings are, as a rule, preoccupied with their own affairs. So the first step is making people aware of your problem.

The helper must believe that you want help

Sometimes people don’t to offer help because they’re worried that they’ve misunderstood the situation or that you prefer to do things by yourself. The helper expects you to come to them, forgetting how reluctant most of us are to ask for help.

The helper must take responsibility for helping

One of the biggest obstacles to helping is scattered responsibility. So, take the time to ask potential helpers directly.

The helper must be able to provide what you need

People are busy, and not all of them have the skills or the resources to help you. But you can make any request seem more manageable by being clear and detailed about what you are asking for, keeping the request reasonable, and staying open to receiving help that is different from what you asked for.

Always be transparent

Transparency is one of the most highly-valued skills an osteopath can have. It goes without saying that we are absolutely transparent with our patients, so why don’t we apply the same thinking to our principal or associates? A team where everyone is transparent means everyone can enjoy more loyalty, faster growth, and a happier workplace.

Therefore, your first step for asking for what you want at work involves a transparent mindset, and transparent communication with whoever you’re asking help from.

Okay, so you’re thinking clearly. What’s next?

The benefits of asking for help at work

Now more than ever, the success of practices means open and honest communication and collaboration between everyone at the clinic. It sounds simple, but asking for help is skill that gives a lot of osteopaths the slip. That’s where knowing the benefits comes in.

Wayne Baker, author of ‘All You Have to Do Is Ask’, explains in a Forbes article:

One is that we fear others will think we are incompetent, weak, or can’t do our jobs. But research shows that, as long as you make a thoughtful request, people will think you are more competent, not less.

We teach our coaching clients, a mix of associates and principals alike, about some of the benefits they’ll likely experience when people give themselves permission to ask for help.

  • Better problem solving skills
  • Increased team cohesion
  • Growth mindset development
  • More opportunities to develop and learn
  • Decreased stress levels

What asking for help may look like

There are many different things a principal may ask of you as an associate or vice versa, but here are a few examples:

  • Taking time off work
  • How to get more new patients
  • How to improve return rates
  • Covering a shift
  • Getting advice on a ‘tricky patient’
  • What to do in order to get a pay rise
  • Improving patient-practitioner communication skills
  • What to do when you’re not busy
  • How to better communicate with other healthcare professionals

How to ask for help

Positive positioning

Now, it may be the case that you don’t have much contact time with whoever you’re asking help from. So, you may find it helpful to reach out to them with something positive.

Invite them for a coffee, send them an article you think they’d like, express a few things you’re enjoying about work or send this one email that transforms communication between associates and principals.

After you’ve built some positive communication, ask for help. The more you authentically invest in your relationship with them, the more likely they are to be authentically invested in your needs.

Consider your timing

It’s important to know when is the best time to ask for help. The helper may be dealing with personal stress or issues, while the person who needs help may need more immediate help. While it’s key to bear in mind your situation and the person you’re asking help from, don’t wait forever otherwise time will fly by with no conversation or change. Considering your timing is a balancing act between “there’s no perfect time” and understanding there are better days than others to reach out.

Actually how to ask for help at work

There are many ways to ask for help and the best option depends on what you’re asking and who you’re asking. But to give you a general answer, it’s always better to do things face-to-face. Whether that’s a quick 5-minute chat or a pre-organised meeting. If your chat requires it, you can summarise the conversation in an email for future reference.

Say thank you

Don’t forget to say thanks once you’ve got the help you want. Something along the lines of “I really appreciate you taking the time to explain this to me, given how busy you are with ____”. Small acts of gratitude can increase the chances of them helping you in the future.

You can’t always get what you want

When you’re asking for help, it’s important to leave room for flexibility and compromise. Understand that things can take time to change and that what you’re asking for may not be possible. Be transparent and direct but be prepared to take no for an answer. Don’t take anything personally and ask respectful questions to better understand the reasons behind why something may not be able to be done.

Now that you have every reason to ask for help, go for it!

Written by Alan Zaia M.Ost

Founder & CEO of Osteohustle. You’ll find Alan coaching osteopaths, travelling in a van or writing our weekly newsletter, The Hustle.

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