Asking for Help, How Not to Morph into a Parasite

mosqIn business building or job searching, one of the most important things you can do to increase your success is network. 

Not just attend events and exchange cards, really connect, share, provide value and ask for help.

That last part can lead to valuable information, knowledge and contacts or it can brand you as a parasite.

There is a fine line between being helpful and being taken advantage of.

I have found more often than not, people want to help you.  They will offer time to have a phone conversation or give their advice, all you have to do is ask.

The problem comes when you cross the line from asking to expecting, you start taking advantage of their good nature.

This week I came across a few examples of people being helpful and friendly and the situation quickly turned into a negative experience.

One woman had offered advice and insight, at the last minute, to a peer; after a joint meeting the peer requested time with her at that moment.  She was not available, but offered the next day.  Her peer became upset with her.

My best friend is having concrete work done.  The contractor explained that it is just him and he had a couple of other big jobs and asked if she could delay her start to help him out.  She was fine with that, she’s a nice person, and she understood.  It has been over a week that her yard has been torn up and not seen or heard hide nor hare of him.

I have been there, done that.  It always amazes me how the situation turns ugly so quickly.

Someone will ask for me to review their information and I do so gladly, giving suggestions and advice.  I love helping people and always offer a free review.  People may not need to hire me, sometimes they just need a little boost in the right way.

However, there are times that individuals then come back with the expectation that I will continue to critique and guide them throughout the entire writing/networking/interviewing process on their schedule (which is normally last minute) and for free.

Here are some ways to tell if you are a parasite.

  • If you begin with a small request and then morph into demanding the full monty on your time schedule and become insulted that I am not willing to accommodate, you might be a parasite.

  That whole passive-aggressive look is so last season, drop it.

  • If you start with an unusually high amount of flattery, you might be a parasite. 

What you are really telling me is you think I am an idiot that can be buttered up and manipulated.  I survived teenager boys who were expert charmers, you are being     disrespectful, not sincere.

  • If you try to justify why I should give you my time, lots and lots of my time and expertise on your schedule and on my dime, you might be a parasite.

A lesser degree of passive-aggressive and flattery, but still in the same vein, still insulting.

  • If you angrily argue with me over the advice I have given you, you might be a parasite.

You asked me, remember?  I am sorry if you do not like what I have told you but I am not your spouse, I don’t tell you what you want to hear to make you feel better or shut you up, I tell you what you need to hear.

  • If you ask about costs and then ask, “But can’t you just do it for free?” you might be a parasite

Oh gee, if wishes and buts were candy and nuts, oh what a wonderful Christmas we would all have.  It is a saying my mom used to tell us when we came up with excuses or unreasonable requests.  Who knew I could ever be able to use it myself – or would.

  • If your justification for asking is that this is something that I do every day so it is no big deal for me, you might be a parasite.

Yes, you are right, I do this every day, I have dedicated myself to my craft.  I take pride in it and love what I do; this translates that to me, it is not a big deal.

  • If you try to guilt me into helping you, you might be a parasite.

My grandmother was the queen of guilt trips so there is no way you can hold a candle to her, nice try.

  • If you try to bully me, telling me that you would hate for people to know how unaccommodating I am, you are a parasite. 

And a bully.  Really, you are just a jackass.

  • If you tell me that someone else offered to do this for you for free or spend an incredible amount of time with you on their dime, so you do not see why I can’t, you might be a parasite.

This one is easy, then go call them.

I absolutely advocate asking for help.  Just please keep in mind when you do to mind your manners.  Thank the person for agreeing, act professionally, listen to what they have to say, thank them again for their time at the end and offer yourself as a resource or for any assistance that they might need in the future.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer



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