I am a big proponent of asking people for help. There are many things in this world I just don’t know so I am smart enough to know to ask for help. For those in transition I commonly suggest requesting informational interviews and asking for help.
But perhaps I should clarify this: yes, do ask for help but no, do not expect someone to do all the work for you or overstep your bounds.
Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean by stepping over your bounds:
I have a friend who is a florist. She does amazing work and is a very intelligent, earning a marketing degree. She does a lot of design and creative projects and amazes me with her abilities. However, there is one individual that frequently asks her to come over and re-design a table, a room, a profile, a house – you name it, she just expects that my friend will do it.
I knew of a gentleman that lived down the street from a cardiologist. His next door neighbor had to have some tests run and requested copies of all the reports. Upon receiving the reports he promptly walked up to the cardiologists home, handed him the test results and said, “Can you take a look at these for me and tell me what they say?”
I have another friend that teaches a business basics class, primarily how to write a business proposal. Every once in a while he will get a participant that will hand him their proposal after the class and ask him to “just take a look”. After giving a few suggestions he hands it back and inevitably the participant gets upset and says, “I thought you were going to re-write it.”
Or asking if your friend if know of an individual you can contact then asking them to set up the appointment for you. Polite is asking them to make an email introduction, rude is asking them to be your personal assistant.
You see, people are willing to help, but please do not take advantage of them. You are not receiving assistance in that manner, you are burning bridges.
If you are unsure if you request is approaching the “over the line” test then simply add this sentence to the end of the request:
“Please feel free to say no, I will not be upset. I am looking for help and sometimes I get a little exuberant and request too much. So if it is all you have to say is ‘I’m sorry I can’t do more’.”
Give them an out. Then honor your word. If they do not want to help do not hold a grudge, realize that you might have been asking a bit too much of someone.
I think people in general are good and kind and willing to help their fellow-man. But I also think that people will help because they want to not because they are expected to – please do not put that expectation on them.
And my last little gentle reminder of the day: be sure that you are always willing to help out your fellow-man. Those that get without giving will never receive. Those who give without expecting receive tenfold.