The need for clarity when requesting help – Guest post by Helena Holrick

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Have you ever asked for something and then realised that because you asked for it in a certain way, you didn’t end up getting what you were after? It’s disappointing, frustrating and can leave you shy of asking again, which is a HUGE mistake.

Asking for help is a KEY component of moving forward, on a project, in a relationship, in life for that matter.

But, asking for help can be a ‘big’ thing for many of us. It can make us feel vulnerable, scared or just downright silly or stupid. It can prevent us from taking action, and hold us back from doing what we deep down know we need to. And worse, once you’ve mustered up the nerve to ask, these feelings can still play themselves out and we can end up not quite getting what we want.

get clarityThe key to asking and getting what you want is a 3 step process that will support you in getting the clarity BEFORE you do the asking. Most people are so caught up in the end result and in predicting the responses before a question is even asked that they hold back because they’ve already made up their minds that they know the answer. To get what you want, you must have complete clarity about 3 things:

  • WHAT you do and don’t already know or have in place
  • WHAT result you are looking to create
  • HOW you want your answer delivered

By taking time out to get clear on the answers to these 3, you will be able to shape your question and save a lot of time, frustration and energy.  Let’s explore how and why they work:

What you do and don’t already know or have in place

Knowing what you know and don’t know about something can help you phrase the request you are making much more clearly so that it actually offers you NEW information, or HOW a next step could be approached, rather than getting you a re-hashed version of something you already know.  Making a list of what you know and don’t know allows you to identify where you have an information gap, and lets a question nearly write itself.

What result you are looking to create

Get really clear on what it is you want to know or have NEXT. Once you know what you do and don’t know, you can do some thinking on what would be most helpful and what area you really most need help with. This may mean you decide to ask different people different questions – even having this distinction can save you a lot of time and energy.

Keeping the result in mind is essential when formulating follow on questions or even doing the asking for help, as it will keep you focused on getting what you want, and save you (and them) time, energy and attention.

How you want your answer delivered

businessman is receiving files,folders  and telephone from coworOne of the key things that frustrates us when asking for help and leaves us feeling that we are not getting what we want is actually that we don’t stop to consider or state how we’d like the information or support delivered. Again the onus is on us to ensure we ask in such a way that we get the answers how we want them.

If what you want is a recommendation that you can check out, ask in such a way that (by email perhaps?) you get names, numbers or links sent to you. “Have you got the numbers for a good lawyer?” is very different from “what lawyer should I use for my house conveyancing” and may need a different approach and also more or less time to get answers.

Finally, the bonus key to clarity is always down to which word you start your question with:

“How do I find an estate agent in the area that will take care of everything for me?” will elicit a (sometimes very) different response than “What estate agents are good to use in this area that will take care of everything for me?”

When you know you need to ask for help, stop for a moment to think about what you REALLY want, formulate your question and get clear BEFORE you ask. Take the time to You may just learn to love asking for help!


Helena Holrick is a content creation coach and business mentor dedicated to supporting individuals and small businesses grow and thrive through making things simple. She provides personal, professional and practical support that moves start-up and small business owners forward, through developing their skills and strategically aligning their vision with appropriate actions. She regularly speaks, delivers workshops, and runs a monthly mentoring and accountability group. She believes that business is about having fun, being generous and taking strategic action to get growth in effective and efficient ways. To set up a half hour “What’s my next step?” session with her, email

Images © Focus Pocus LTD (feature image), marek & Bacho Foto/Dollar Photo Club & Helena Holrick image © Helena Holrick


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