Own My Growth

Helping folks with practical tips to manage themselves better

Ask Yourself These Three Questions Before You Commit To Help

Three Questions

Others often demand our time and attention because they need it. After all, it will help them in whatever they are doing.

“I am busy at work. Can you please pick up my son from Kindergarten?”

“I am struggling with this proposal document. You are a natural at doing high-quality proposals. Can you please help?”

“I know you are busy. But, I need your help in reviewing this fifty-page proposal. So, can you please spare some time for me?”

We don’t want to appear uncooperative or unhelpful when such requests come to us. After all, if the other person comes to us for help, it means that they know we are competent enough to help. So, even though we may not have the time or know we may not be the right person to help, we go ahead and say “yes” to the requests because we are squeamish about saying “No.”  

This is where problems emerge. Many times when we take up tasks we are not qualified to take up, or we don’t have the bandwidth to take up, we end up feeling overwhelmed and stressed, and, in the bargain, we do a terrible job. This is the paradox of trying to be helpful- we end up being unhelpful eventually.

So, how do we decide when to say “YES” and when to say “No” when someone asks us for help.

 In his book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, author Peter Bregman offers a simple decision-making model to deal with the predicament.

He says we should all ask ourselves three questions before accepting any new commitment. These are-

1. Am I the right person?

2. Is this the right time?

3. Do I have enough information?

If you are not the right person because you are not competent or qualified to help- say NO.

Even if you may be competent to help, do you have the time right now to help? If you don’t have the time- say NO.

If you feel you have the competence and the time, do you have enough information about the issue on which help is being sought- get the information first to understand better. Else, don’t be uncomfortable saying NO.

If the request passes the sniff test of all three questions, go ahead and offer your help.

Peter Bergman says that saying NO to some requests is essential if we want to be at our productive best at all times. And we should not be uncomfortable saying NO gracefully !!!

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