For those needing—and granting—help

“Ask for help when you need it.”

It’s good advice, not just for students who need help from their counselor, but for anyone who needs occasional guidance or support. Nobody gets ahead alone. And one of the many traits of a successful person is the pairing of their drive, initiative, and work ethic with the ability to recognize when they need assistance.

In the past week, three different people have reached out to me asking for help with a scenario they were facing. A friend wanted some career advice about a possible job opportunity, a former student turned journalist wanted information for an article, and a Collegewise colleague wanted my take on a situation she’s facing at work.

The friend and the former student never said thank you. In fact, neither replied at all, not even with an acknowledgement of receipt. But the Collegewise colleague told me in person and again over email how much she appreciated and benefited from our time talking it over.

Of those three people, who do you think I would be most likely to help again if they needed it?

We should help people who are important to us without expecting an effusive thank you. The only better reward than knowing we’ve offered what we could is that of knowing the assistance actually made a difference. But it’s important to do so in a sustainable way, one that will let us keep giving our time and energy when others who matter to us need it most. And sometimes the only way to give sustainable help is to say no to some people.

And for those who need the help, please remember to thank the person who willingly offers it up. It’s the right thing to do, and it makes it much more likely that resource will be available again the next time you need it.