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Dream Career Toolkit: Do you have a hard time asking for help?

So, you have a friend who works at an agency. You’d love their advice. Or, you’d love for them to look at your materials and give you feedback or pass them to the right person. But, you just don’t ask.

help pic

Your family member is an executive, a casting director, or a producer. They are working on a project that you think would be perfect for you. But, you just assume that they know your work and will approach you if they are interested. You feel uncomfortable asking for help, so you don’t say anything at all.

If these describe you, you’re not alone!

Consider for a moment the definition of help. Help: to make it easier for someone to do something by offering aid.

Now, let’s look at the definition of helpless. Helpless: Unable to help oneself; powerless or incompetent.

It’s not that we have an inherent problem asking for help. It’s that we make asking for help mean that we are helpless. And if being helpless means we are powerless or incompetent, is it any wonder that we don’t want to ask for help?!

I propose that we reframe the conversation entirely because the help/helpless path is a rabbit hole if there ever were one.

What if instead of asking for help, we simply made a request? Request: the act or an instance of asking for something.

I don’t know about you, but this is already easier. When I make a request, I’m asking for something, but not because I’m incompetent or powerless. There’s no negative charge with a request.

And, if you read my win/win blog, you know that when something occurs as a win or an opportunity for someone, they want to do it.

What this means practically is that if you can think about why responding to your request would be a win for the person you’re asking, then you’re way ahead of the game. This means that you have to step outside your own needs, wants and fears, and get into their head for a minute. What do they want? What will be a win for them?

When you do this, it gets a lot easier to frame your request specifically for them, to speak to their needs, if you will. When you do this, it’s a lot more likely that you’ll get a “yes!”

So, I encourage you to take this on. Stop asking for help and start making requests. Think about why the person you’re asking would want to say yes. Craft your request in such a way that it occurs as an opportunity! And see how many yesses you get!

Shawn Tolleson is a career coach working with screenwriters and other entertainment industry professionals. She gives you the practical tools you need to accomplish your dream career. Check out blogs, videos, classes and more at!

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