it’s all in how you position the offer

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very good at accepting help. I like to think I’m perfectly capable of handling my problems myself–which I generally can (I don’t have issues…). Oh, and I hate inconveniencing people. Hate. It. There are a number of things that have made into this person who wants to do everything on her own. I won’t get into the details, though, because that isn’t what this post is about.

Yesterday, though, I found myself having a conversation at the end of which the person with whom I was speaking made the general offer, “If you every need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.” And my thought? “Yeah…fat chance.”
Then, a couple of hours later, my home teachers came to visit me. (Incidentally, and having nothing to do with this post, they came bearing a demi-baguette and passionfruit panna cotta from Silver Moon Bakery…amazing!) I really like my home teachers. They are just good guys. In fact, after the big snow storm, I got a phone call from one of them just to make sure I didn’t need anything. I didn’t (I was in Utah), but it was super thoughtful.

Anyway, as is typical of home teachers, at the end of their visit they asked me if I needed anything. I instantly said, “No. I’m good. I’ll let you know if I do need something, though.” P.S. I don’t make a habit of lying, but I must admit that was a big fat lie. I had no intention of calling them if I ever needed anything.

And then, one of them rephrased the question and asked, “If you had to ask for one thing, what would it be?” I suppose I could have said something like, “I wouldn’t.” But I was caught so off guard by the follow-up, that suddenly I found myself giving them a reply. A real one. I don’t think I had even realized that there was something I could ask for, something I needed. Apparently there was.

I learned something so valuable. Well, two things. The first is that it’s okay to ask for help, even if it’s someone you don’t know that well, and even if the help is minor. People like feeling useful. The second and, in my opinion, more valuable lesson is the value of effective positioning. Essentially, in the case of offering help, there is a way to ask a person if she needs help that will help her know that you are serious. While my offers to help others are always sincere, I’m guessing most people feel a lot like I do. They don’t want to inconvenience anyone. Like me, they might not want to admit that, while they are handling everything on their own (and could probably continue to do so), it might actually be nice to have someone in the ring with them.

And just because I was listening to Greg Laswell while I was writing this and because I feel like this song kind of goes with the post, here you go:

bueller?... bueller?... bueller?

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