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One of the big pieces of advice getting thrown around in the corporate world is to not be afraid to ask for help. But what if you ask and all you get is crickets? Episode 63 of Faithful on the Clock shows you how to improve your ask to up the odds that people will respond and support you.
[01:29] - It’s common for people to have situations where they need to ask for help. Scriptures such as the story of Moses and Amalek in Exodus 17:8-16 show we’re supposed to both give and receive help.
[03:37] - Ask Tip #1: Evaluate the people you are asking. Many people go to people they think of as ideal without considering whether that person is really available.
[04:44] - Ask Tip #2: Take a look at the ask itself. You need to provide a specific pathway people should follow within the ask.
[06:28] - Ask Tip #3: Put your ask in the context of the return for the other person. Make it clear that you are proposing a reciprocal arrangement where they also get one or more benefits.
[07:45] - Ask Tip #4: Make sure you are following up. Don’t let fear of being a pest, imposter syndrome, or other issues stop you from politely reaching out a few times when you haven’t heard back. Don’t automatically assume that a little silence is a no, because often people are just busy or get distracted.
[08:59] - Scriptures such as 1 John 5:14-15 often are misinterpreted to mean that if you go to God with an ask, God will give you whatever you ask for. These verses actually are meant to show that God is approachable, not that He can’t or won’t say no. He will say no if it is best for you, so go to God but respect His plans and authority.
A lot of people are in situations where they legitimately need to ask for help. Scriptures such as the story of Moses against Amalek encourage us to be helpers and to accept help when it is necessary.
The first tip for improving your ask is to reevaluate the people you’re asking. Some people try to choose their ideal person, but that ideal person doesn’t have the bandwidth to really be supportive. So be willing to find the person that God knows is best, rather than just giving up after your first choice fails.
The second tip for improving your ask is to take a look at the ask itself. Make sure you are specific enough in the ask in explaining a clear pathway. People need to know exactly how to move forward in helping you or they can hesitate or ghost you.
The third asking tip is to put your ask in the context of the return for the other person. Make it clear what they are going to get back so they see the value in supporting you and know you are not just self-centered.
The final piece of advice for making your ask better is to follow up. People can back off too early because they don’t want to be a pest or worry that they’re being too pushy. They assume silence is a no and let the ball drop. Keep checking in a few times before you quit.
People still can turn you down even if you do everything right. But you can go to God with your asks, too. God might not give you everything you ask for, either, but you can have confidence that you have permission to approach Him and that He’ll always be beside you with your best interests in mind.
Think about a previous time in your life when you needed help but didn’t ask for it. Identify what held you back and consider the specific actions you needed from others.
Find one thing that you genuinely need help with right now that you’ve been afraid to seek support for. Identify at least three people who might be able to help you. Then develop the specific actions you’d like them to take for you, as well as what you can offer back. Go make your ask!
What’s coming up next:
Interviewing is nerve-wracking for most people, in part because interviewers toss out some questions that stink. Episode 64 of Faithful on the Clock identifies a handful of the most difficult interview questions, highlighting why they’re challenging and how to master your answers.
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Welcome to Faithful on the Clock, listeners! This is the show where the main goal, the shiniest of shinys, is to get your faith and work aligned. I’m your host, Wanda Thibodeaux, and today is all about the ask. How in the world do you ask people for help in such a way that you actually get the support you need? If you’ve ever felt like you could use a hand, stick around, because I’ll show you how to get people behind you.
To start off the show today, I’d actually just like to tell you a little story about my husband’s work. I gotta embarrass the guy a little once in a while, right? But he’s in IT, and his company is going through this whole thing where they’re basically switching over some of their equipment and the process around that. And one of the things that’s kinda been stressing him out is that management hasn’t been super clear about who has the specific roles or tasks people have within this transition. So essentially, it’s created a situation where he’s expected to produce these deliverables, but the team just really isn’t that organized, and he doesn’t know who to go to a lot. So this is the kind of situation, and I think a lot of you out there can relate to it, where you really do have a legitimate reason to ask for some help. You know, you’ve gotta get some clarity or have somebody help you out or you’re not gonna be able to move forward very well.
Now, I tell this story because I think these types of things happen a lot. And I think there are a lot of people out there who, you know, they–they’ve played all their chips and they know they’re not gonna make it unless they get some help. And especially now, when we talk so much about being transparent and vulnerable, that message that it’s OK to ask for help is pretty strong. That is not a bad thing at all to me. But I do think that a lot of the time, we follow that advice, you know, we take that risk and put our ask out there, and then we just kinda hear crickets. And I wanna be very clear that that’s not a great thing. And I mean, I know not everyone you approach is gonna be a Christian. But scripture tells us to be helpers. Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Then you have Galatians 6:2, which says “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” 1 John 3:17 says, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” And then lastly, I wanna offer you the story of Moses in Exodus 17:8-16. And what happened was, Israel went to war against a group called the Amalekites. And Moses goes up to the top of a hill with Aaron and another right-hand man named Hur, and every time Moses put up his hand, Israel would get the upper hand in the battle. And when he would let his hand down, Israel would start to lose. But you know, you can’t hold your hands up forever. So Aaron and Hur, what do they do? They get on either side of Moses and they help him out. They literally hold his hands up because Moses couldn’t do it anymore by himself. So we’re meant to be literally lending a hand. And just like Moses, we’re meant to be accepting help, too. There’s no shame in that, and sometimes, it really does save you. So what can you do to avoid that silence and actually get some support?
The first tip that I’d like to suggest for you is to take a step back and just reevaluate the people you are asking. Because what I see a lot of the time is that people go to unavailable people. You know, they have this kind of idealized view of the other person, and they focus on that rather than on whether the other person really has the bandwidth to do anything. And then the other person, you know, maybe they do wanna help but things just get crazy and they just end up ghosting you without really meaning to. So my recommendation is, don’t just look at asking the quote unquote “best” person. Really take a look at what they’ve got on their plate, because you might find that, if you really look at everything they’re doing, they’re just not gonna be able to commit the way you need them to. And in that case, they’re not gonna be the best person. The best person is the person who not only has the skills and experience, but who has the time for you. And if you ask your ideal person and they’ve let the ball drop even with you checking in a few times, well, then just cut your losses, because that to me is a big sign God’s got somebody else who can do the job for you just fine.
Then, secondly, take a look at the ask itself. And the big mistake I think people make a lot here is that they explain their need, but then they don’t give the person they approach a really clear pathway for exactly how to help. So let me just give you a quick example. So let’s say I go to my husband and I say, “You know, honey, I’d love for you to help me out around the house, I’m just, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed in that department. Would you mind doing that?” And he might say to me, “Oh, yeah. Sure. No problem.” But then I don’t tell him you know, specifically, “I really need help with the laundry,” or “I need somebody to cook dinner Wednesday night.” So he might try to help, but maybe it’s not really what would have made the biggest difference, and then I still gotta do what really would have been nice to have off my plate. And at work, I think this gets a little tricky because even as we’re told to go ahead and ask for help, we also have this message now that, you know, it’s good to let people find their own solutions and not micromanage too much. But I think you can find a balance there, where you can be specific about the steps they should take, but you’re still leaving them room to make decisions of their own within that. Like, I might tell somebody on my team, “OK, we need a new vendor, so would you mind getting online and doing some research to find some potential companies that might be good?” So I’m being specific in that I’ve identified the goal of making a list of vendors, and I’m specific in that the person helping me out knows they’ve gotta do this online. But within that, you know, they can go to the company websites, they can read online reviews, they can send an email to a sales rep…so they still have some autonomy even though I’ve laid out something specific that I need. So paint the broad brush strokes of the process you need and then let them fill in the details.
Third, put your ask in the context of the return for the other person. I mean, sometimes people will help just because they feel good doing the right thing. They just wanna see somebody else succeed and be there for them, and that is awesome. But it’s also human nature for that ego to kick in and say, “Hey, what’s in it for me?” And some people, if they can’t see what they’re gonna get back or how helping you out is gonna benefit them, they won’t feel very motivated. So when you ask, let them know what the benefit is. Maybe they’ll get some exposure, or maybe if they help you, they’ll have something they can put on their resume. You might have a lot of different things you can sell like that, but the idea is that you don’t want it to feel one-sided. Just try to make it reciprocal so they understand that you’re not just in it for yourself. And I can use the podcast here as an example. I’ve been trying to get some reviews on the show, you know, but when I ask for those, I’m letting people know that I can give them a review back, or that I’m able to include their company when I share that review on social media. So, same thing with the email list. I make it very clear that, if you sign up, I’m gonna give you a bible study or a link to a bonus episode or a great free ebook or something like that you’ll get some value from.
Then lastly, make really sure that you are following up. Because I think sometimes what happens is, we go ahead, we make the ask, and then we don’t check in because we don’t wanna be a pest. You know, we get nervous that we’re being too pushy, and maybe that imposter syndrome or inner critic kicks in, and we think that the fact the other person didn’t get back to us right away, that that’s just a flat-out no. So go ahead and practice being persistent. Especially now, everybody’s got so much going on. And it’s so easy for an email to slip down to the bottom, or for somebody to just forget to text back because they got interrupted with a bunch of stuff. So don’t automatically assume that silence means you’re out.
So those are my four big things for improving results on your ask. Evaluate the people you’re asking, look at whether you’re communicating a specific path inside your ask, make your return on the ask clear, and make sure you’re following up. Doing even one of those things should help you out a little bit, but if you consistently apply all four, you should start to see some big changes in how people respond to you.
Now, to just wrap this up, I am not gonna beat around the bush about the fact that sometimes you can do everything right when you ask people for something and they’ll still turn you down. And you know, people aren’t perfect. They’re gonna miss opportunities to help, and they’re not always going to see value in what you have to offer. But that is where I want you to remember that people aren’t the only place for you to go. You’ve still got God to ask, too. So I’ll give you 1 John 5:14-15, which says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.” And then Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Jeremiah 29:11, people quote that all the time. It says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” And a lot of the time, what people do is, they assume that their plans are God’s plans. They take these verses to mean that, if God’s really looking out for them, God’s gonna make everything happen that they wanted to happen. And then they get upset or mad at God when He says no. But there’s an old saying that if we actually got everything we asked God for, we’d be in pretty bad shape. And God’s not leaving you high and dry just because you don’t get what you wanted. What these verses mean is that God is approachable, and that when we put Him first as true servants, He’s going to pay attention and respect that. He knows what’s going on, he knows what the struggle is, and He’s not gonna abandon us. And we can see this with Jesus in the garden in Luke 22:42. Jesus is about to be crucified, and He knows what’s coming. And so He prays and he says, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” He went to God in confidence and made His ask. But He still accepted God’s authority, and because He accepted God’s authority and the plan God had, millions of people get to be with God for all eternity. So go to God. Make your ask and trust that He hears you, because He absolutely does. But then also check your heart, OK? Trust that He’s got your best interest in mind, and always understand He has the bigger picture.
So let’s close out the show with a prayer.
Lord, as we think about how to get more out of our asks, I thank You that You sent us Your Son Jesus so we always can come to You with whatever requests we have. I thank You that there is no barrier for that, and I pray that, even as You know what to do for us, You give us the wisdom to ask You for good things, for the right things that are going to bring You glory. I ask that you’ll help us see the right people at the right time to go to along the way. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Well, that’s all, everybody. Time for me to go eat some tacos or do some cartwheels, I guess. But while I’m off doing that, please do me a favor and go to patreon.com/faithfulontheclock. You go there, you’ll see all the options for becoming a sponsor. And this is my formal ask to you to support the show. You can get newsletters, I’ll let you in on episodes early–there’s a lot of good stuff no matter which tier plan you pick. Do that, and next time, I’m gonna talk to you about interviewing. What are the interview questions that people think stink the most, and how do you handle them? See you in two weeks, everybody. Be blessed.
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.
Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.