Asking for help demonstrates confidence and self-awareness (2/2)

A continuation from last week…

I’d like to believe the true spirit of the statement “don’t bring me a problem, bring me a solution”, suggests you should make a respectable attempt at solving something yourself, or at least consider possible solutions, before seeking help. Not that you literally need to have figured out the precise solution to a problem before you raise it with your boss. So why did the phrase become so popular as to be cliché? And what causes it to be used in a more literal fashion? I don’t know… but I will speculate.

Have you ever worked with someone who puts about two minutes of effort (if that) into solving a problem before asking you to help them? It’s incredibly frustrating. I’d like to think the “don’t bring me a problem…” phrase started to be used more literally to deter those types of annoying requests.

So how do you handle these types of requests? Humans are generally good people. You WANT to help your colleagues and support them. And this is where the potential problem lies. If you start to solve your colleague’s problem every time they ask for help, you are unintentionally rewarding their undesirable behavior (good dog!). Maybe you’re mildly irritated the first few times this happens, but you give them the benefit of the doubt. Then it becomes a habit, and you start to dread these types of requests and conversations. If you must solve everything for this person, what value do they really bring to the team? If instead of solving the problem, you can make a habit of guiding them towards the right answer, by asking questions or giving them a helpful hint, it’s more likely you’ll see these types of requests fall off.