How to Help your Helper Help You


I was thinking about Amanda Palmer’s talk on “The Art of Asking” on TED as well as her expounding about it in her book.  Of course it mostly dealt with artists and the asking/giving dynamic that happens but it made me want to write this post about helping but more specifically, asking for help.

Helping others is a part of most people’s day.  No matter what they say about this being such a big bad world, just jump online or look to your neighbor and you can see little gestures and someone lending a helping hand. Of course there will always be those who have nothing better to do than to be nasty but for the most part, I have been very fortunate because most of the people that I have met online and off have all been nice, normal and helpful people. Some folks even do it professionally as support people, as tech support or customer support.

What I want to focus on is how to ask for help (and yes it took two paragraphs to get there) more effectively.  People WANT to help but we have to equip them with enough tools to allow them to use their expertise to help us.  There are only five things that I feel we have to keep in mind:

1.  Be specific – Details! If you are asking for tech support, try to remember the steps that led do the “error” that you have, or perhaps even supply screenshots and if you remember, tell them how often it happens. Links are helpful as well. Outline things that you have already tried to fix the problem so they don’t waste time trying something that won’t work.

2. Be nice and polite. Always. There is absolutely, NO reason to be rude.

3. Be patient. Sometimes, the person helping us need to look some stuff up, or ask a resource person, or have to do a  bit more troubleshooting.

4.  Be persistent. A nudge here and there wouldn’t hurt to help with follow through.

5. Pass it on! Someone helped you? Perhaps at some point, we get to help someone else too. 🙂

Note: I just started reading Amanda Palmer’s book and pretty good so far. 🙂

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