It’s ok to ask for help at work when you’re not sure what you’re doing, when you have too much on your plate, or when you’ve made a mistake.

Are you one of those stubborn types that won’t ask for help under any circumstances? There are lots of people like that at work, and many times they struggle unnecessarily because their pride or anxiety won’t let them ask coworkers for help when they need it. But it’s okay to ask for help at work and in your life. Here are three situations where it’s entirely appropriate and even normal.

When It’s Okay to Ask

Asking for help may seem like a weakness, but it could be a career builder that your coworkers and employers respect. Asking for help is a sign of maturity of thought; you are self-aware enough to recognize when you’re in over your head. Asking for help in these situations means you’ll end up working more efficiently. There’s someone on the team that probably was exactly where you are now. Why in the world would you go it alone when the whole point of teamwork at the office is to share ideas, experiences, and expertise? Here are three common scenarios when it’s okay to ask for help from a colleague at work:

  1. You are completely lost. That’s at the far end of the spectrum of asking for help. It means you’ve probably struggled to figure things out, then struggled some more deciding if you’ll look silly admitting you have no idea what you’re doing. Then maybe you struggled with figuring out which coworker wouldn’t think you were ridiculous for asking in the first place. Stop the struggling, lighten up, and go for the ask, already! If you attempt to complete the work without the context or training you were probably missing, to begin with, your output will likely be inadequate. Go ahead and ask a trusted coworker by saying, “I’m feeling confused by the details in this project. Do you have time to chat with me about it?”
  2. You have too much to do. If you are an enthusiastic “Yes,” person, it’s easy to get in over your head. Being buried is not a good place to be especially if you’re unwilling to request assistance from your boss or coworkers. If a deadline is looming and you know there is no way you can meet it, it’s probably past time to ask for assistance. While we know it may feel like you’re a slacker, you are not. Every employee runs into a point where the work overwhelms. Instead of missing deadlines, consider what you need to do to get help and get back on track. The alternative is to miss deadlines entirely, and that will be a worst-case scenario.
  3. If you made a mistake. No one is perfect, but you have a hard time believing that. Human errors are so — human. Making a mistake is one of those facts of life that you may not have crossed the threshold of what you believe to be possible. While you may be tempted to brush off the mistake and hope no one notices, the truth is that admitting your mistake is the best way to move on quickly and improve the outcome before the mistake worsens and causes greater harm.

To err is human, but to admit your mistakes is a courageous move that puts you at the top of the productive employee list. Go ahead and ask for help. It’s simply the right thing to do.

If you need help in your job search, contact IES. We’re here to help.

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