The Point: We’ve all seen those people in organizations that won’t accept help… “Nose to the grindstone!” is their mantra, and attempting to help them receives a negative reaction. Sometimes subtle, sometimes head-jerking, these negative reactions typically persuade those wanting to assist to never (as in NEVER) offer assistance again. In this post, I’ll take a look at the number one (#1) reason why stakeholders in business refuse help, and five (5) tips to overcome such moments for success… Enjoy!
The #1 Reason: Weakness
The number one (#1) reason why someone doesn’t want to accept help is typically because they don’t want to be perceived as weak. Real or imagined, exposing your weaknesses is often not looked upon as very positive, and is typically a very ingrained pattern of thinking (So therefore very difficult to overcome). But what if you don’t have a choice in the matter? What if you are assigned to participate in a team full of those that don’t want/need your help?
In executive coaching session after executive coaching, I’ve seen empirical evidence on the topic of overcoming weak perception with the following five (5) tips.
Tip #5: Get to the Heart of the “Weak” Matter
There are many possible reasons regarding why the individual is reluctant to have help be offered, and it’s important to narrow the field of possibilities down. Some of the reasons identified in executive coaching conversations for this reluctance might include:
- They might feel totally independent and don’t need/require any help from anyone/anytime.
- Accepting help puts doubt into their level of competency.
- They may be frightened of the consequences of accepting help.
- The individual could be scared of rejection associated with asking for help and not receiving.
- Their status as a “Perfectionist” could be jeopardized.
- Overwhelming feelings of vulnerability.
- Concern over this being a signal of potential un-professionalism.
- Allowing problems to serve as roadblocks on the way to success.
- Past acceptance never seemed to work out the way they intended (Hence, they are better off simply doing everything by themselves).
- They don’t want to burden others by asking.
Tip #4: Unrealistic Ideals and Wishful Thinking
If the individual puts themselves in a real/perceived position where there are conflicting or reinforced societal “norms” where asking for help is seen as a weakness. Here is a list identified in executive coaching conversations that leaders should pay attention to regarding societal norms associated with such unrealistic ideals and wishful thinking:
- There is a common theme that runs amuck in tv shows, movies, social media etc.
- The common thought that it is ok or fine to be alone, standing as an individual against all odds/comers by.
- Peer pressure of organizational hazing.
Tip #3: Your Bias Actually Feeds the “No Help Required” Flame
By building an invisible individual wall around themselves, sometimes these individuals purposefully are warding off the potential of being hurt. While they might feel a greater sense of safety versus the rewards of collaboration, it’s important to keep the following in mind as a leader identified in executive coaching conversations:
- It is both arrogant and conceited to think that you can offer to give, but never receive help (That one’s aimed at you leader!)
- The influence/persuasion law of reciprocity are alive and well. Think of how good it felt to not only give/receive help in the past (Or share the potential rewards of what could be).
- Their abilities sabotage their thinking. In other words, they are so confident that failure is not an option, that all they can see is success!
Tip #2: Reality Should Rule
Overcoming reasons (realistic ones) as to why help should be expected, coupled with a realistic thought patterns of performance should provide the opportunity to help. Some aspects of reality identified in executive coaching conversations that should be implemented to foster help include:
- Learn the pros/cons associated with accepting help.
- Flip your trust equation (simply provide it, without question/debt/guilt/etc.)
- Act on opportunities to provide/seek/receive help without a second thought (Hurry, do it before that second thought enters your mind).
- Start by asking those you trust.
Tip #1: Focus on Solutions
As a leader, you typically have problems (multiple problems?) that face you. In working with those that typically don’t ask for help, you may be able to overcome these obstacles by keeping things focused on solutions, and the short-timeline associated/inherent therein. Considering the individual’s strength, ability to give, and trust can go a long way towards focusing on solutions.
In this post we’ve covered the number one (#1) reason why we don’t ask for help, along with five (5) tips to assist in overcoming such moments (people!) Important to keep in mind that regardless of which method/tip you chose to implement, there is always an opportunity to provide great leadership along the way (or to simply hire differently in future situations as the need arises).
PS – You may also enjoy some of the other recent posts I wrote:
- The Leadership Challenge: Saying “Thank You”
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Mindful?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Better Off Lucky Than Good?
- The Leadership Challenge: Can You Drive the Development of Leaders Who Transform Your Business?
- What’s Inside Your Leadership Time Capsule?
- The Leadership Challenge: 10 Characteristics to Develop Your Executive Presence
- The Leadership Challenge: Happy New Year! Now What?
- Leadership Amnesia: Should You Forget the Past to Move Forward to a Better Future?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are Your SMART Goals DUMB?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Climbing the Leadership Mountain?
- The Leadership Challenge: They Want You To Fail! 8 Leadership Tips to Overcome Failure
- The Leadership Challenge: Do You Exercise Your Moral Muscle?
- The Leadership Challenge: Conducting Post-Mortem Reviews
Sam Palazzolo is the Managing Director at Tip of the Spear Ventures, an agile Venture Capital and Business Advisory Services firm specializing in Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, and Communication Skills Training for Leaders.