EPISODE 1, ASK AWAY - be sure to ask enough questions and avoid the worst mistakes


Asking questions at work is essential, and it helps your success prospects if you know what to ask, when to ask, and how to ask it.

So let’s take a closer look at this first Way to Succeed.

Not seeking help is one of the most frequent faults new employees make. Most people like to give support. Asking them for it shows maturity and confidence. It’s a sign of your strength, not weakness.

You unleash the often-ignored serendipity effect when you ask about something at work. These are the lucky or unexpected benefits of your actions. Who knows exactly where your asking may lead?

Let’s hear from the legendary Steve Jobs of Apple fame [AUDIO]

Steve’s basic message is don’t be afraid to ask. Just pick up the phone, drop them a mail, or walk up to someone at work and ask for help.

You can’t manage everything alone in your job. We all need help occasionally, and accepting it strengthens friendships and builds relationships.

So choose carefully who you ask for help from. For example, track down a natural listener, not one who judges, criticises, or blames you.

Here are a couple of tricky questions to consider. Do you know what might mark you out as a time-waster at work? Or worse, brand you as a potential management problem? Got any thoughts on these?

The answer is being a loner, struggling with work that you can’t yet manage, not knowing where to find information, reinventing the wheel, or failing to think through the help you need.

Perhaps you’re unsure about “what questions to ask?” In that case, focus on the goals of the people you’re working with. What are they struggling to achieve? Do they look as if they could do with some help? When you can’t get answers, keep pushing.

Knowing what your colleagues are trying to do, is a sure way to become valued and respected.

There are also some clever ways of asking for help. The wrong way is to appear helpless with vague, hard to answer queries.

A much better way is to prepare. Your best chance of getting an excellent response from asking at work starts with posing a question to yourself:

“What is my problem?” Can I write it down? Am I sure about what it means, and will someone else understand it?

Next, spend time deciding: “Who can I trust who’ll know how to help me?”

Finally, when you ask for help: “What will you say?” Try writing it down and seeing if it makes sense when you read it aloud.

When you are seeking help, timing can prove deadly. For example, if you choose to fire questions at someone deep in conversation, you risk being labelled insensitive, even “troublesome”.

Instead, pick a time when they’re likely to feel relaxed and able to spend time with you.

Framing your question is one task you could usefully spend some time on. How will you approach your question? Will you convey a sense of urgency, a need to know the answer now, or suggest a relaxed sense of curiosity?

The best opening may seem of little importance. Yet it guides the other person on how best to respond to you. Saying “I need help right now” sounds very different to the other person than “I’m curious about.”

Lastly, here’s one fact that might help you feel better about asking at work. Did you know that the number of questions you ask someone can predict how much they like you afterwards? More questions, more liking!

Also, you get better results when you pose follow-up questions on the earlier one, rather than switching to an entirely different issue.


  • Being willing to ask for help is not a sign of weakness

  • Prepare your questions, so people can easily offer help

  • Ask your questions when people are likely to be free and relaxed to spend time with you.


It’s that asking for help well is a simple yet profound, even unpredictable way, to get what you want at work and in life.

Today’s episode is from the theme: COMMUNICATING FOR SUCCESS