A simple guidebook that helps business owners, freelancers and leaders learn to ask for what they need.
All You Have to Do Is Ask
How many times has someone said “Why didn’t you ask? I’d be happy to help!”
If you’re like most business owners, this has happened more times than you’d like to admit.
I get it.
When I moved to the United States at the age of 7, I learned to speak English on my own, I did my homework on my own, I figured things out on my own. My parents were in the same boat, and while we worked together to adapt to this new country, each of us had our own challenges to overcome and we did those on our own.
My professional career followed this same pattern. For some reason, I came to work in organizations that had no marketing systems or processes. Their only experience with marketing was what they saw on TV. Once again, I felt that I was on my own.
It took me decades to overcome this “asking for help” dilemma. It would have been a lot easier for me if I had a copy of All You Have to Do Is Ask: How to Master the Most Important Skills for Success by Wayne Baker back then.
Don’t worry. It’s never too late. As I’ve been working on my business plan, this book made me realize that once again, I’ve been ignoring a critical business success factor; asking for help.
A Guidebook for Lone-Wolf Entrepreneurs
You know who you are. You are strong and independent. And you make things happen. So you don’t need any help. Except when you do.
And since we’ve already established that you aren’t likely to ask for help, why not get a book to help you?
All You Have to Do is Ask is my kind of business book. It highlights a critical success factor, provides research to support its premise and then provides a clear and succinct guide on how to integrate its strategies into your life.
The first part of the book explains the powerful and transformative role that asking plays in being successful and achieving your goals.
One of my favorite features is the simple assessment that you can do yourself to identify which of these giving and receiving profiles you are:
- Overly Generous Giver: The person who is always helping, but never asking for help.
- Selfish Taker: The self-focused person who is always taking, but never giving in return.
- The Lone Wolf: People who are rugged individualists, neither giving nor seeking help.
- Giver-Requester: By giving help, they develop a reputation for generosity and by asking for help, they receive what they need to be successful.
The second part of the book is comprised of a toolkit that you can start using immediately to incorporate a practice of asking into your business and personal life.
Here are a few of the elements in the toolkit:
A quiz to identify your asking and giving style.
SMART criteria for who, when, and how to ask.
“Plug and play” routines that make requests a standard component of meetings.
The Reciprocity Ring, a guided activity that allows people to tap into the giving power of their network.
About Wayne Baker
Dr. Wayne Baker is a Professor of Business Administration and Management & Organization at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. His research and teaching focuses on social capital, social network, generosity, and positive organizations. He is also the cofounder and board member of Give and Take Inc. developers of the collaboration technologies based on the principles in All You Have to Do is Ask.
Why Asking For Help is Hard
How often do you ask for help?
If you’re like most of us, not often enough. In All You Have to Do is Ask, author, Wayne Baker outlines 8 universal reasons many of us avoid asking for help.
Here’s a quick summary of the 8 reasons Baker has pulled together based on third-party research, his own research and decades of experience.
1. We Underestimate People’s Willingness to Help
Study after study shows that most people will help if asked, but they don’t think others will help. In fact, a global Gallup survey showed that 2.2 billion people worldwide have helped strangers in a single month! Yet, those same participants stated that most individuals would be unwilling to help. Another study showed that out of about 1,000 requests made, nearly 90% were immediately fulfilled.
2. We are Too Self-reliant
Did you know that 85% of people agree with the statements that they would rather depend on themselves and would rely on themselves most of the time. While there are benefits and rewards to this way of thinking, many people take it too far. Waiting to ask for help creates stress and anxiety that is often unnecessary.
3. We Think that Asking for Help is a Sign of Weakness
This feeling stems from a belief that competent people don’t ask for help. In truth, asking for help is actually a sign of confidence.
4. Asking for Help May have Negative Consequences in the Workplace
While most workplaces say that they encourage teamwork, it’s not uncommon for there to be unspoken cultural disincentives to ask for help. In these circumstances people are afraid to bring up problems, ask questions or face tough issues that might lead to making mistakes.
5. Organizational Systems and Procedures Get in the Way
It’s not uncommon for organizations to have entrenched systems and behaviors that make asking for help virtually impossible. A common one Baker mentions is “conflicting incentives”. Leadership may want to create a culture of sharing, but the performance incentives are such that reward individual performance in a hyper-competitive culture.
6. We Don’t Know What to Ask For
Believe it or not, not knowing what you want is a big barrier to asking for help. While this may seem impossible, it happens more often than you think. Because people aren’t conditioned to ask for help, when put on the spot, they often don’t know what to ask for. Start an ongoing list of areas where you need help and when someone asks “How can I help you?” you will be ready with an answer.
7. We Think that We Haven’t Earned the Right to Ask
Most people have the false belief that giving and receiving is a sort of ledger; you have to give so that you can receive. Baker points out that the act of giving and receiving is not a two-way transaction. You don’t have to have a balanced book with every single person. Rather, your books should be balanced across a network of people with whom you interact.
8. We Don’t Want to Appear Selfish
Similar to feeling like we’ve not earned the right to ask, we also want to look good. And there’s a perception that asking for help makes you look selfish. The opposite is true. Asking for help actually opens up new opportunities.
There are few things that are simple enough to do but that can literally transform your life. Making requests is one of those things. After reading this book, I realized that there was no shame in asking. I also realized that I wasn’t prepared with a list of areas where I need help.
All You Have to Do is Ask is a must read. Entrepreneurs, small business owners and freelancers will appreciate the simple, practical processes that will increase your rate of asking for and receiving help.