These days, as we are all stuck at home, we are relying more and more on DIY tasks and asking the people in our pods to help more. In the past, if you needed something fixed, cleaned, cooked or monitored you could outsource it and hire a professional. Now, as we are limiting our contact with the outside world, we are inevitably demanding more of the people with whom we live. This can have detrimental consequences to our close relationships if we aren’t mindful about how we ask for help fulfilling our needs. While we may mean well, asking for help from others repetitively can strain our relationships and have emotional consequences including leaving the person feeling over-worked, criticized, taken advantage of and under-appreciated. As a result, these feelings can cause long-term relationship problems due to underlying frustration, anxiety and unspoken resentments. These are what is known as “unforeseeable consequences”.
It is important to use a mindful strategy to help navigate your requests for help.
Using a mindful strategy can help avoid these unforeseeable consequences and keep you from putting what’s known as a “psychological wedge” between you and your pod. Rather than creating wedges, these techniques will give you an opportunity to build on your relationship pods. The goal should be to enlist the help you need while leave the other person feeling appreciated, useful in a meaningful way, and part of a team.
There are 4 useful steps that you can take to help secure a positive relationship outcome while also securing a positive result and achieving your goals. These enable you to Activate Mindful Requests for Assistance.
Appreciation- Start with expressing some form of appreciation. For example, start by saying “thank you so much for helping me out with this project.” Or “I really appreciate what you did here….”. This is key because often people wait to the end of a project/task to express gratitude towards someone. Waiting to the end can make the person helping out frustrated due to feelings of being taken advantage of or criticized if you make corrections. Remember being ambiguous or vague about how appreciative you are leaves room emotionally for negative feeling to brew. Likely, you are frustrated about a project, which is why you need help in the first place, so make it known to the helper that you are appreciative of their support and assistance.
Acknowledgment-Acknowledge to them what their contributions are in a meaningful way. If they are giving you their time, then acknowledge it by saying “I know you are probably busy or would rather be doing something else, so I really appreciate this…” If they are an expert or authority in something, then acknowledge that. You might say, ” I am so glad I have an expert like you to help me in this.” This can definitely ward off feelings of resentment that come from being taken advantage of.
Ask- This is the part when you ask for what you need. It’s helpful to be specific and focus on behaviors. “Could you do this and this?” Be positive and focus on what you need to be done or changed rather than what is wrong. Avoid asking rhetorical questions that involve assumptions.
Affection –This is a way to reward someone in your pod after they have contributed to something you need in some way. You can offer a note, a hug, or a kiss; you can express kind positive words, or do a kind gesture such as making them dinner, bringing them flowers or offering to help them with something they might need.