Self-Managing People Are Smart about Asking for Help

there are only a few types of asks.

1) Help me identify a problem.

Something is not quite right. I’ve observed the following concrete things, and I sense an issue but am having a hard time putting my finger on it. I’m looking to leverage your experience to help me identify the problem.

2) Help me frame the problem.

I’m looking to solve the following problem. I’m inexperienced when it comes to framing possible options, and I could use your help.

Ideally, you’d take the initial crack at this one. This blog post describes a simple technique. If it’s your first time or you’re really struggling, ask for help.

3) Review my analysis.

I’m looking to solve the following problem. I’ve spent some time framing possible solutions. I’d like to discuss the options with you and hear your critical feedback so that I can improve the options and make an informed recommendation.

4) Sanity-check my choice.

I’m looking to solve the following problem. I’ve developed a few options and identified my preferred path forward. I’d like you to sanity-check my preferred path.

5) Heads up.

I just wanted to give you a quick heads-up. I’ve made the following decision and am planning on implementing it on the following date.

6) Just Venting

I need to vent about something. I don’t need anything solved for me, just a sympathetic ear.


The smartest and most talented people don’t have all the right answers. They just excel at asking the right questions to the right people.