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Bookworm #4: All You Have To Do Is Ask, By Wayne Baker

Bookworm is a weekly book review series from Future Startup where we share actionable insights from books to help you improve your life. We aim to publish 3-4 reviews per month.

This week 15 lessons from All you have to do is ask, BY WAYNE BAKER

Central idea: If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Throughout our life, our ability to successfully ask for help, money, knowledge, support dictates how we turn out. However, most of us are either don’t feel like asking or are not good at asking successfully. The book explores ideas around the importance of asking, why we struggle to ask for what we need, and how we can improve our asking-skill and succeed at getting what we ask for. 

Rating: 5/10 

If you don’t ask, the answer is always no

“Studies show that when we do make a request, even total strangers are significantly more likely to grant it than we assume. Asking for help is often the one simple act standing between us and success. But, the thought of actually doing so can be terrifying for so many of us.  It’s critical to understand that help rarely arrives unasked for. In fact, studies show that as much as 90 percent of the help that is provided in the workplace occurs only after requests for help have been made. The explanation is simple. People can’t help you if they don’t know what you need, and they don’t know what you need until you tell them. When we don’t ask for what we need, the costs are enormous. Research shows that failure to ask for help costs Fortune 500 companies billions of dollars each year.4 And the costs in our own lives—at home, work, and everywhere else—are much greater than most of us realize. Not asking for help is one of the most self-limiting, self-constraining, even self-destructive decisions we can make.”

Asking can change our lives 

“When we give ourselves permission to ask, we unlock human generosity and miracles happen.” 

We almost always underestimate others’ willingness to help us

“Across all these studies we see a common pattern: we routinely underestimate others’ willingness and ability to help. But the truth is that people actually help one another more often than you might think. In fact, one global Gallup survey found that three of four Americans (73 percent) helped a stranger in need within the month, and that the majority of people in more than half of the 140 countries surveyed have done the same.”

If someone rejects you once, it does not mean that they would reject you all the time. In fact, the opposite is more likely to happen 

“It stands to reason that when a person grants a favor once, you might be emboldened to ask for a second. But what happens when a person declines your request? Would you make a second one in the future? Most people wouldn’t dare. But here, too, you would be limiting yourself, unnecessarily. Researchers have found that people are likely to respond to your second request, because they feel bad that they refused you the first time.”

Asking for help in relationship strengthen bonding

“On the flip side, the ability to rely on and ask things of our spouse or partner builds trust, commitment, and emotional closeness.”

The secret to successful asking, know what you need

“The key is to always ask yourself: Why am I asking for help? Will it help me develop new skills, and learn something new? If the answer is yes, give yourself permission to ask.”

People who help others are often more productive at work and life 

“If you think about the most well-regarded and productive people you know, you’ll realize they are those who generously help others and who ask for what they need. Adam Grant calls these people “otherish”—they combine concerns for others and concerns for self.7 These are the people who fuel the cycle of giving and receiving.” 

Giving without expectation is the best approach to receiving help 

“As I wrote in my second book, Achieving Success Through Social Capital, “By practicing generalized reciprocity—contributing to others without worrying about who will help you or how you will be helped—you invest in a vast network of reciprocity that will be there when you need it.”

The art of giving 

“Give without strings attached; give without expectations of return.
Give freely but know your limits; avoid generosity burnout.
Don’t hesitate to ask when you need help, but avoid dependent help-seeking.
Take a long view. At any point in time, you may be giving more or receiving more; in the long run, strive to be a giver and a seeker.” 

Know what you need 

““Asking was easy,” Ji Hye says, “but you have to know what you need, what resources are out there, and who to ask.””

Asking is a critical life skill 

“Whatever path you’re on, one thing is certain: learning to ask for what you need—whether it’s advice, mentorship, information, materials, referrals, funds, or just a friendly ear—will help you get closer to your goal. Remember, the things we need are often much more attainable than we think, and people are generally much more generous with their help than we tend to believe. And yet, even once we recognize this, we still struggle. Why?”

Weak ties are rarely week 

“Dormant ties—like former colleagues or classmates, teachers and coaches, old friends, and even Facebook friends you haven’t been in touch with in years—are another commonly overlooked source of help.”

Invest in learning how to ask for help 

“Asking for what we need doesn’t come easily for most of us. Asking is a behavior that must be learned. It requires three steps: determining your goals and needs, translating needs into well-formulated requests, and figuring out whom (and how) to ask. You can use one (or all) of three methods to determine your goals and needs: quick-start, goal setting, and visioning.” 

Making asking for help safe is the best way to encourage collaboration in organizations

“Psychological safety is essential for creating a culture of asking, giving, and receiving. When people feel safe, they ask when they’re stuck and need help, or when they make a mistake and need help fixing it, or when they’re struggling under a heavy workload and need help.

High-performing organizations enable a safe environment to ask for help 

High-performing teams are psychologically safe places in which team members are enabled to ask for and give help.

You can buy All you have to do is ask, BY WAYNE BAKER on Amazon, we don’t get an affiliate fee as yet!

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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