Relationships and the art of asking

Learn the three steps and statements that can be used to guide you through the art of asking

Young man and woman sitting on couch having a serious conversation


This is the seventh in a series of stories about how you can use the myStrength wellness portal and app to enhance your emotional well-being. In this installment, Ayzha Corbett, mySupport program manager and clinician, introduces employees to the art of asking.

Asking for help can be hard for some because it can bring feelings of unease and apprehension. You may wonder, What response will I get when I ask for help? Most people feel vulnerable when asking for help in relationships. This vulnerability may be rooted in the fear of being rejected, ridiculed, or becoming a burden to others. This is normal.

Asking for help can come naturally to others. Asking is a gift. When done in an honest and authentic way, it can help create meaningful and deep connections in relationships. The ability to ask for things that you want or need is important to any relationship, whether professional or personal. It can be difficult to balance your own needs and the needs of others, but learning to do so is essential, especially during a time of remote working and physical distancing.

All people are made up of their own beliefs and preferences, and each person gets to choose and express them. Expressing can bring up feelings of intimidation and concerns about hurting someone's feelings or being impolite. Each of these concerns can take a toll on your emotional health, which is why it is important to express yourself and be clear about what you need and want.

Relationships have a great impact on each of us. They have the ability to make us happy, and healthy relationships can lead to positive emotional well-being. Understanding what your rights are and what you are allowed to do in a relationship also can help strengthen it.

Scripting what you want to ask, and what you are thinking and feeling, is a practical step that can be used in any relationship. Having a script not only helps define exactly what you want to ask but also allows you to practice, either by yourself or with someone you can trust, before putting it into action.

Here are three steps and statements that can be used to guide you through the art of asking:

  • Use "I think" statements. This allows you to state facts connected to the situation and should not include judgment. An example of this step is, "I think we decided to meet at 3:30 p.m. for our project meeting. It is already 3:45 p.m."
  • Next, use an "I feel" statement. This optional step offers a place for the expression of emotion. It should not start with "you" or "I feel that you" because it will become a statement of judgment. An example of this step is, "I feel unrecognized."
  • Finally, use an "I would like" statement. This allows you to ask for what is needed or wanted, and it's key because it allows interpersonal communication and connection to happen in the relationship. An example of this is, "When you will be late, I would like an email to indicate that you will be running late."

Each of these steps can be combined with a self-care solution recognizing that asking for something from someone else is beyond your control. Having a self-care solution allows you to resolve a concern or problem that may have been expressed using the previous steps. The self-care solution is a statement of what you plan to do to take care of yourself if the ask is not honored in the relationship. These steps combined can help to enhance the way you ask for what you want and need, leading to healthier relationships.

Among the resources available to support the emotional health of Johns Hopkins employees and their family members is a free app called myStrength, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play. To create an account, use your email address and the access code JHU or JHHS, depending on your affiliation. Its modules are self-paced and can be done whenever, and wherever, you choose.

One especially useful feature of the app is that it lets you track your well-being with a regular emotional health "check-in." In addition, an entire module is dedicated to the art of asking; it offers strategies, tips, and information on how to respect your rights and ask gracefully for what you want.

Each person may feel and think differently about asking for help, so be open to the perspective, beliefs, and emotions of others. If you are having a hard time asking for help in professional or personal relationships, do not hesitate to reach out for professional support. Johns Hopkins' mySupport program is available to employees and their family members 24/7 by calling 443-997-7000. Now, more than ever, asking for what you need and want, strengthening relationships, and taking care of yourself are important.

Posted in Health+Well-Being

Tagged hr newswire