3 Reasons Why No One Is Asking For Help

(and 4 better reasons to start)

by Abbey Johnston | Jan 4, 2022

Tough conversations aren’t only for conflict resolution or dealing with your colleague’s inappropriate comments – one of the hardest, most uncomfortable, conversations to have at work is to advocate for yourself. And now, more than ever, people need support. This pandemic has created workplaces full of the walking wounded and still one of the toughest conversations for us to have at work is to ask for help.
Here are three reasons why.

3 Reasons Why No One Is Asking For Help

1. Busyness and burnout are celebrated.

It’s in the water we drink and while many of us might express frustration with this reality – most of us are still playing the “game.” Hustle culture is real when the most trending tags are: #slayallday #hustle #grindtime

2. It is lonely outside the system.

Advocating for what we need is a lonely place. So many of us are living on overdrive and we know the pace we are keeping isn’t sustainable. Yet it feels nearly impossible to do something about it. We feel trapped by a system built and operating on unhealthy patterns so we believe that the only way to keep things moving is to not rock the boat.

After all, everyone else is busy – who am I to complain? 

This thought, and many others, make stepping outside the system feel almost impossible and, therefore, seldomly done.

3. Self-awareness requires time and space.

It’s hard to advocate for ourselves because it requires us to know what we need. It seems pretty straight forward but often we’re moving too fast to actually consider what it is we truly need. Do I need to relax by shopping on my phone till midnight or might I need something else…like maybe sleep. Asking for help requires us to pay attention to ourselves in ways we don’t typically do.  And then we must trust what we need is valid.


1 – It is hard to advocate for our needs at work because busyness equates to high status.
2 – Stepping outside the burnout machine to admit our needs makes us part of a lonely minority.
3 – It requires us to know and validate that we actually have needs. 

So what would make us want to push through ALL that?! Seriously?

Because the cost is too high.
$322 billion = global cost of turnover and lost productivity due to employee burnout.
Gallup, 2021

Alright, y’all ready for 4 reasons to start?

1. Hustle culture is killing us.

Choosing to keep things status quo may be the path of least resistance but it is also the path that kills us softly. It is easy to believe the lie whispering, “it is harder to change than it is to stay.”  They are both hard. It’s just a matter of choosing what kind of “hard” we want to engage.

2. Bravery is contagious.

When you slow down and advocate for yourself, you give others permission to do the same. To pause, to rest, to share their own needs. Bravery is contagious. The discomfort of asking for help actually has the power to change not just your life – but others. All of a sudden, this place outside the system is not so lonely.

3. Asking for help builds trust.

When we ask for help, we build trust. Asking for help is one of the biggest trust building activities we can engage in.

“We hate asking for help. But that’s where it gets wild. We asked a thousand leaders – what do your team members do that earns your trust? The most common answer: asking for help.” -Brené Brown, Dare to Lead

4. Sharing our needs creates connection.

The sum of the three reasons above is that we are creating connection. We are all human. We all know what it’s like to need help. Sharing our needs allows us to connect on this common thread.

The bottom-line bonus. If we want to be completely mercenary about all this – a culture where people can name their needs and ask for help creates better individual and collective performance.

3 Minute Practice

We know this is a tough conversation, maybe the toughest. So we are going to make it as easy as possible with this quickie practice: 

Take three minutes. 

  • Sit and notice what you need. Or if you don’t actually know, name where you are stuck.
  • Make a list.
  • Now, who needs to know this? (a supervisor, a partner, a coworker, a friend?)
  • Ask for a few minutes of their time and share what you noticed. 

As you begin this new year – know that one of the bravest things you can do is to be honest about how you are doing and what you actually need. You won’t regret it. Promise.

Courageous Spaces begins February 2022

Key ingredient to make all of the above easier? An environment where people feel safe to share their needs and be open about how they are doing.

Find the tools to build and inhabit cultures that support the wellbeing of all in our new program: Courageous Spaces!


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