I'm not afraid to ask for help. I have always been the sort of person who knows when something is beyond my capabilities and knows that there comes a time for each of us when the words "Can you help me with this?" just have to be asked. I remember being a little kid and struggling with the zipper on a jacket and realizing "I need help!" but was too stubborn to ask - I waited until my frustration level was too high and broke it. Lesson learned. Waiting too long to ask sometimes has results we're not happy with.
Over the last few years, I've realized that knowing when to ask for help is only one part of the issue. Knowing how to ask for help is often the part we get stuck on. No matter how badly we need assistance, if we ask in a way that isn't conducive to receiving it, we're still in a bind.
You've been in the situation, I'm sure: Someone asks you, completely exasperated, "Can you just help me??" Yes, they're exasperated. Yes, they're struggling. Yes, you want to help. It's really difficult to help someone who's already reached the "I hate this!" stage, though. They don't listen as well, they're probably argumentative, they're thoroughly frustrated with the entire situation, and you know going into it that harsh words are a good possibility. It makes helping a chore instead of a pleasure.
Regardless of what you're doing, whether it's at work, at home, in a social setting, is to take a step back. Breathe. Count to ten. Do whatever you have to do to be in the right state of mind to ask for and accept help. Remember - when you ask for help, you're about to learn something. Your way of going about the problem wasn't successful, and you're looking for another viewpoint. Realize that it's not going to be the way you'd do things - you've already tried that avenue. Be open to learning. Be open to suggestions. Accept that there is another way - and accept that by learning that way, you're not only fixing a problem, you're also opening your mind to another way of thinking.
No, I don't get asking for help "right" every time. I'm human - I get frustrated and lose my temper and feel like a buffoon. More often than not, however, I find myself taking a step back, breathing, and realizing that before I can ask for help, I must be ready to accept it.
How can we help others accept help? Do you think there's a way to position ourselves with customers/clients/friends/etc? I'd love to hear your thoughts!