Sunday, August 26, 2007

Etiquette 101: Asking for Help

During dinner with friends not too long ago, the conversation touched on the topic of people who have no qualms about requesting help or assistance from others. Despite the fact that I consider myself to be generous, I have a pet peeve about people who presume too much, and have found it draining of my energy to be around people who are constantly requesting for things to be done on their behalf. I think it curious that I often see articles offering advice to people who have trouble asking for help or that suggest that a way to make life more manageable is to enlist the help of others. I would argue that a little self-sufficiency is an honorable thing, and that unless we are paying someone, we should not assume they are in our service. Obviously there are times when we need and should ask for help, and occasional requests and grants of favors strengthen relationships and are good for society in general. However, I also think there are a few questions a person should ask him or herself before imposing on another perhaps one too many times:

1) Can I do this myself?
2) Was help offered?
3) Does this person seem to want to help?
4) Might this person feel put upon if asked for help?
5) Am I always the one asking for help?
6) Am I making assumptions about what is owed to me?
7) Am I assuming others are at my beck and call to further my goals?
8) Am I assuming others share my priorities?
9) Am I putting the recipient of my request in an awkward position?
10) Might I be putting a strain on this relationship?

One might consider these questions and still proceed to request assistance, but at the very least, I think one should consider them.

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