How to Get People to Help You

If you feel frustrated that other people aren't pulling their weight around you at home, work, sports, youth club, etc., it might be that you're setting up a situation where people take for granted that you're available and able to help all the time. It's a good idea to examine your own behavior as well as find ways to motivate others to do their bit too.


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    Look at your own behavior. Are you creating a situation where others feel that they cannot or should not help you out? Some of the key indicators include:
    • Mommy martyr syndrome - you do everything without blinking an eyelid and always have done and nobody sees things as not working fairly. You mutter under your breath but keep doing it regardless.
    • You can always be relied upon to put things away, tidy up after sports practice, bring the food to an event at short notice, be available at the drop of a hat. In short, you are known as being "always available" and sometimes that translates to being "too available" and taken for granted.
    • You have poor assertiveness skills and don't know how to say no or where to draw boundaries. If you do say no, you feel so guilty that you will undo the no be somehow doing what was asked of you anyway.
    • You practice mind reading. In other words, you expect people to be able to read your mind and realize how tired/distressed/busy you are without you actually voicing it and it causes you a lot of internal frustration when they don't "get it".
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    Ask for help. If you don't ask, you won't get people to do things. It's human nature to ignore things that seem to be working fine without our intervention. It is also a sign of you wishing that others could mind read; they can't and they won't because it is easier to remain ignorant of needs that remain unspoken.
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    Be firm. Tell people that you will do something provided they do their part. One of the tricks to making this work is to rely on everyone's strengths. Assess these before you ask for help. For example, tell Uncle Shane to use his strong arms to put away the trestle tables, tell Aunt Joan to use her wonderful cleaning trick to wipe the tomato stains off the walls, tell Mary to use her culinary skills to bake the best cake possible, tell Joe to use his skills of persuasion to get little Johnny off the roof to come to dinner. When you pinpoint another person's skills and praise those skills at the same time, you are offering them a situation where it becomes hard to refuse to do their bit. You have shown them that you notice they are good at something and that you rely on them to be able to use this skill to help out. It's an all-win. And at the same time, you'll be getting on with your part of the deal.
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    Practice assertiveness skills. Without being able to stand up for yourself and create limits to what you will or won't do, people will learn to take you for granted. If you have built up expectations over a period of time as to what you will do, it can take a little while to undo the expectations. Don't be surprised if some people find this unsettling; it's your right to assert yourself politely and it's simply a surprise when people wake up to the fact that you're doing this. Keep with it.
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    Encourage children to learn the value of helping others from an early age. One lesson that is important to tell children is to pitch in and not wait to help out, when it is clear that their help is both needed and wanted. Although there is a fine line between taking over and being bossy, it is important for them to learn the ability to know when a helping hand is genuinely needed.
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    Offer to help them. Offer your service to help them out in their problems. The person in question will be happy to return the favor.


  • You can waste a lot of time and energy believing that people can mind-read. Thinking that people must see that you need help but are simply being stubborn by not doing so can cause you to see difficult behavior where there is nothing of the sort. It can also cause you to feel martyred and this feeling can become a habit that excuses you from speaking up. Seek solace in a more productive way by asking.
  • If the person refuses to offer you help, you are entitled to ask for a reason. Sometimes this will be enough to change their minds. For someone who believes that it is your role to do things and not be helped out, getting them to help will be much harder. The suggestion here is to keep asking and to hand them the tools to complete the task with you. If they continue to refuse, it might be time to reappraise what you will be willing to help them out with from now on.

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Categories: Social Interactions