How To Ask For Help

How To Ask For Help

Please read this in it's entirety before we speak further.


4 min read

If you're reading this you've most likely contacted me for help!

All joking aside I am happy to help. However, the way you, and others (you are not alone), have asked for help has necessitated the need for me to write this article. I promise you that it is less time-consuming for you to read this article than it is for me to explain it personally and it will be faster for you to follow it than it would be to seek help any other way.

So lets get started!

Crafting a clear and specific request is crucial for quick problem resolution or getting help from team members. Below are some examples of bad questions and how they might be more effectively worded so that you get the best help, in the shortest time, from the most qualified person available (which may not even be me).

Bad question:

"Can someone help me with this issue?"

Better question:

"Hi there, I'm having trouble with X feature in our app. I've tried doing A and B to fix it, but it still isn't working. Would you be able to help me with this? Let me know if you need any more information."

Bad question:

"I'm confused about what to do."

Better question:

"Hi, I'm trying to complete task X, and I'm not sure what the next step should be. I've already tried doing A and B, but I'm still stuck. Can you please point me in the right direction?"

Bad question:

"Can we discuss this problem in a meeting?"

Better question:

"Hi, I'm having an issue with X, and I think it would be helpful to discuss it with you. However, I understand your time is valuable, so I wanted to see if we could first exchange some messages to get a clearer understanding of the issue. Then, we can discuss the best way to address it, which may or may not require a meeting. Would that be okay with you?"

Not Just How But Where

In addition to crafting a well-worded request and showing the steps you've taken, it's also important to consider where you ask for help. Asking in a group chat or a public forum can increase visibility and potentially lead to a faster response, but it also means that anyone who sees your request may try to offer help, even if they don't have the necessary knowledge or expertise. This can lead to confusion and lost time for both you and the people trying to help you.

On the other hand, asking someone directly may seem like the most efficient option, but it's important to consider whether they are the best person to help you. If you're not sure, it's okay to ask if they know someone who might be better suited to assist you. This can save time and potentially lead to a quicker resolution.

In general, it's a good idea to think carefully about where and how you ask for help. Consider who the best person to assist you might be, and be specific and clear in your request for help. By doing so, you can avoid wasting time and energy and increase the likelihood of a quick and effective resolution to your problem.

What To Do While You Wait

In addition to crafting a well-worded request and specifying the problem you are having, it is essential to show what you have tried and the results you found. Doing this will help to avoid getting suggestions that you have already tried, which can save time for both you and the person you are asking for help. It also demonstrates that you have put in effort before asking for help and can help you gain respect in the eyes of your colleagues.

It is okay to ask for help early on, but if you do, you should either move on to a separate task or continue trying. Avoid getting stuck on a particular issue for too long because this can lead to frustration and potentially hinder progress on other tasks.

If you do manage to solve the problem before receiving a response, you should make sure to let the person know. This will save them the time and effort of researching and responding, and they can move on to other tasks. It also helps to foster a positive relationship between you and your colleagues by showing that you are proactive and self-sufficient.

Overall, showing the steps you've taken and the results you've obtained is crucial in resolving issues quickly and efficiently. It saves time and energy and can lead to a more productive and positive work environment.