Obviously, asking for help is rarely as bad as we fear and afterwards, we are happy we have asked. The same goes (usually!) for the person who gave us the help. For example, have you ever helped a friend with homework, rehearse lines for a play, helped a lost child find their parents or grab something from a shelf for someone who was unable to reach? I’m sure you have, and I’m pretty sure that afterwards you will have felt pleased with yourself. Some UCL students did a short research project into this recently, and came up with nine reasons why helping others helps us too, ranging from the ‘good feeling’ I’ve just discussed, to the idea that it gives us a sense of purpose and belonging.
A Psychology Professor at Wharton wanted to prove that asking others for help is for the benefit of all. He did this by setting a group of his students the task to prepare for an upcoming exam by splitting into 5 ‘knowledge’ groups, each studying only 1/5 of the required exam material. Once they had studied ‘their’ part of the exam, they had to share this knowledge with the other groups. Each group therefore had to ask the other 4 groups to teach them what they did not know. The result was staggering as each student had a higher score on the resulting exam than they ever had before. This experiment showed both the benefits of helping others and the benefits of asking for help.
It seems asking for help AND giving it benefits us. So, forget about looking dumb and take the plunge! Ask for help when you need it, knowing you yourself will be happy to help others too. The importance of learning from others cannot be understated. You never know what someone else might know and how this could help you forever. Don’t believe me? Check out this amazing Ted Talk by Amanda Palmer.