Have you ended up looking like a fool because you didn’t ask for help?
I took the car for a service this morning. Yes, I admit it, I volunteered for the job so that I didn’t have to do the school run. It wasn’t the local dealer – it was in a town around 20 miles away because my Yorkshireman-accountant-husband got a good deal…
When I went out to collect the courtesy car, I was asked if I would like to be “walked round” it. I declined – I’ve been driving Peugeots for many years and know where to find things. Big mistake. I spent the next five minutes in the dealership car park, working out where to plug in the sat nav. I bet they have a security camera in their office, watching fools like me who won’t accept help struggling to sort themselves out.
Looking like a fool?
The next challenge was when I had to put in some fuel. Could I open the fuel cap? After a further five minutes I was deciding whether to a) ring my husband, b) ask in the petrol station, or c) ring the dealership to ask how to do it when I gave it a push and, lo and behold, everything was alright. There were a number of men filling their cars giving me strange looks…
There are times when I will happily admit I don’t know what I am doing. One of them is in the field of technology. Believe it or not, I actually took a module in Music Technology as part of my degree. Sadly it was the lowest mark I received at university, but happily it didn’t count towards my final result.
Assistance with technology
Gemma, my Technology Manager, never makes me feel like an idiot for asking what must be to her very basic questions. I often email in a panic when I have lost a document, or my inbox has disappeared, and she is happy to help. Not only that, but she creates documents for my colleagues and I to help ourselves. It isn’t that she doesn’t want to bother a second (or third!) time, but that she empowers us to be able to be more independent in the future.
It makes me think about the well-known theory of men not wanting to ask for directions. Some men will happily drive around for an extra ten minutes as they do not wish to look foolish by not knowing where they are going. And I have spent many a time in the supermarket with my husband not wanting to ask where a hidden item is – he would rather search himself than seemingly admit defeat and check with an assistant.
So, is it about ego? I don’t want to admit I don’t know what I am doing, so I keep quiet and hope no-one notices me bumbling around. Or that I will show weakness to others by needing them? Or is it more in situations when I have been offered help and declined, like this morning, that I feel the need to save face by not asking again? I’m not sure.
What I do know is that letting others in, and showing them that we don’t know it all, improves our relationships. People are not afraid to admit to us when they need assistance, and the myth that some people have perfect lives is dispensed with.
So, here is this week’s challenge: when someone offers to help, before immediately declining, stop and have a think. Will I truly lose face by accepting? Could it be of benefit to me? And how will it make the other person feel if I say yes? Please let me know how you get on.
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