1st September 2019

How to ask your mother-in-law for help

A couple of weeks ago my partner and I bought a kitten. We already have one fluffy lunatic, but we’re both out of the house for long periods during the week, so we decided to get her a friend.

However, there was a problem. I am not a cat person. Never have been. I can barely look after one, let alone two. And to make matters worse, the two kittens didn't want to be friends. We had hissing, meowing and crazy games of chase. Our original cat, Luna, was not a fan of her new sister, Poppy, and I desperately needed some help in coping with the mayhem and discontent.

Ten days in and exasperated at the volume of cat paraphernalia, white fur and cat food on the cream carpet, I had a mini meltdown. I'm not proud of it. I accept there are worse things in this world than having two beautiful kittens and a messy house. But that doesn’t negate the fact that I was terribly out of my depth.

I needed help.

The most obvious answer was to ask my mother-in-law, who has owned cats since the day she was born. The problem was, she had cautioned us against getting a second kitten. She had wisely counselled that getting a second cat would be too much work.

We had to go, heads bowed in shame, and admit we had not thought through the consequences of purchasing a second kitten. Luckily, I had just done a WATCH & GO video demo with a prospective client and as part of that presentation, we had watched What to Say When You Need Someone to Help You. This meant the key tips and phrases used in the video were at the forefront of my mind.

Putting into practice what you have just learned from a video is key to positive behaviour change. And whilst my use of What to Say When You Need Someone to Help You was not performance support on-the-job. It was still performance support in real life, and that is important too.

It is not easy to ask for help. And the first ‘takeaway’ from this programme it is that you need to think about whether you need help. People are busy. They have their own set of priorities, so if you are going to distract them from this, you better have a good reason.  

You need to demonstrate a certain amount of independence in the workplace (and in life). Are you sure you don’t have the resources to figure it out on your own? Perhaps there is a SharePoint or OneNote with key pieces of information you could look at before you disrupt someone by asking for help. And if you’re lucky enough to have access to a practical support library of resources such as WATCH & GO, use that you find the answers you need.

Once you have exhausted all other options and decided that you do need to ask for help, choose your time wisely. When we went, cap in hand to my mother-in-law, we knew that timing was everything. There is no point approaching someone for help when they’re busy focused on something else. Pick your moment. If we had approached her when she was in the middle of cooking dinner or writing an email, she wouldn’t have been so receptive to our request for cat advice. Likewise, if you are reaching out to a colleague for help, make sure it is a convenient time to interrupt them. Using phrases like, ‘I can see you're busy, is now a good time?’ and, ‘I need to ask you something. When would be a convenient time?' can all help set you up for success.

And here’s another key point: show respect. Explaining why you have sought this person out will do wonders to your cause. For example, it would be no good going to my parents about kittens with behavioural problems. They don't like cats. And they think it's ridiculous that I've ended up with two. No, I had to go to someone with expertise.  And I had to let my mother-in-law know that the reason I came to her was to get the best, most expert, help available.  You can easily do this in the workplace too. Everybody has something they are good at in their job role. Make sure you acknowledge that you’re asking them because of their expertise in that area. There are a lot of benefits in helping people to feel good.

Finally, it is vital to remember that help is a two-way street. If you are constantly asking for help but never giving it, you will find that people become more reluctant to help you in the future. Furthermore, if for some reason they do agree to help you when you’ve not reciprocated the favour, they are unlikely to go that extra mile for you.

The WATCH & GO video What to Say When You Need Someone to Help You is available for you to view throughout September 2019, as our featured ‘One to Watch’.  Click here to view.

And if you’d like to see the rest of our library of performance boosting video titles, please email video@scottbradbury.co.uk or call 01638 723590 to arrange your no-obligation demonstration. Or complete the request form on our website www.watchandgovideos.co.uk

Alice Thynne

September 2019



How to ask your mother-in-law for help

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