Have you ever needed someone’s help only to find that getting it was like pulling teeth? Maybe you were going about it all wrong. Suppose there was another way to solicit help from others that would almost guarantee their total cooperation. If you are interested, then read on.
Try This Test
Try this test the next time you want someone to help you with something. It doesn’t really matter what you need help with. It can be shoveling snow, painting a fence or solving a computer problem.
Test 1: For the first test, simply ask someone to help you. Say, “Will you help me do this?” Tell them exactly what you want them to do and how to do it. You can even offer to pay them, but make it clear that all you are paying them to do is just what you want them to do. Now note what kind of cooperation you get.
Test 2: For this second test don’t just ask the other person to help you “do” something. Approach them by asking them to help you think about the job that needs to be done. Tell them you have a problem and would like their help in resolving it. Ask them what they think about the problem. Ask them for their opinion about how you are going about it. Again, note what level of cooperation you get.
Inevitably, you will find that although you will get some level of cooperation with the first method, you will almost always get total cooperation with the second method.
A Basic Law of Human Nature
Why is it that if you are out in your yard painting your fence and you ask your neighbor, “Hey John, can you come over and help me paint my fence?” he will tell you to go take a hike?
But if you say, “John, I’m trying to paint my fence and I just don’t know if I’m doing it right. I just can’t seem to get the paint to go on very smooth. Do you have any ideas of what I’m doing wrong?” John will more than likely come over, take the paint brush out of your hand and say, “Here, let me show you how it’s done.”
The reason is simple. There is a basic law of human nature that says we are much more interested in our own problems than the problems of others. When you ask John to help you paint your fence, it is your problem. But when you ask for his advice about painting the fence, you give him a challenge to solve a problem and thus the problem becomes his.
We Need to Be Needed
Another factor involved here is the human need to feel important. By asking John for advice you gave him the feeling of importance, the feeling of being needed. We are much more willing to give of ourselves when we are being looked up to and sought out for our knowledge and skills. It is much easier to engage the brawn when the brain is involved.
This works with painting fences or running billion-dollar corporations. The next time you would like someone to do something, rather than tell them to do it, engage their brain. Let them contribute their ideas and become part of the solution to the problem and you will find them bending over backwards to help you. It’s human nature and it works every time.