Money management: don't hesitate, ask for help

NEW DELHI: Giving is a great quality. We all strive to be that person that people turn to when they need it. Pause and consider this question: How often have you asked for help? Research shows that, except for those who rely on others in an exploitative way, most do not know how to ask, cannot ask or do not want to ask.

How vain and arrogant is that posture? In which you intervene and do things for others, but do not offer the opportunity for others to do something for you. When they tell you that they don't know how to pay your generosity, you just push it away by saying you don't expect anything. Being the person who will give and not take is not a matter of pride or generosity, but probably a cocky vision of his superior self-sufficiency.

Why don't we ask for help easily? There are many explanations that psychologists offer. We believe that helping ourselves is the hallmark of responsible behavior. We don't like to expose ourselves as weak and needy. At some point, it also makes us vulnerable, since perhaps we have opened up to the wrong person to ask for help, who then exploits that information.

Sometimes asking is how to give up control. Those who intervene to help us may not know the limits with which we feel comfortable. In their enthusiasm to help, they can be dominant and condescending, practically assuming control of us. Nor can we ask them to leave us alone, since that seems to be rude.

A friend wanted to know how to invest her money and asked her father for help. The father intervened voluntarily, except that he slowly took over and began to handle all aspects of his savings and investment, to the point of how much balance savings account must have and how investments should be accounted for. She just needed advice. We fear loss of control when we ask someone for help.

Sometimes we can think too much about the act of asking. Sometimes it seems an act of incompetence to ask: check with people who will never ask for directions.

Should we bother? Is it really important to ask? Consider the path you have traveled in life, the distance you traveled, the ups and downs and where you are today. Is it even imaginable that you would be where you are today without the many people who intervened to enable it? It is silly to imagine ourselves self-sufficient, no matter how much we try to maintain control. To ask is to let others voluntarily enter our lives, so it is enriched in ways that we cannot handle by ourselves.

Think of an act of generosity that makes you proud. You have to allow others to feel the same. Relationships grow when you ask. To ask is to give up and treat others as equals, and be willing to let them do things for you.

You would be surprised how willing and happy it is to help people when you ask, and how strangers step forward in unknown places to do what you ask. Do you remember the old man who accompanied you to the door of the house you were looking for? Or the woman who gave you her cell phone to make that call at the airport? Or the boy who lifted your heavy suitcase from the bin? Everyone felt good about making you a good twist.

How can we ask sensibly? Be specific about what you need and keep it short and to the point. People do not have the ability to discover what you might need. Can you give me a glass of water? It is a perfectly reasonable question. When what you need is simple and straightforward, people find it easy to respond.

Make sure you have made the effort before asking. That differentiates who manipulates to exploit the other, and who asks. If you usually spend your salary before the next payday, it is difficult for your friend to grant you a loan by hand without rancor.

If you have to ask someone you know, make sure you have implemented your previous suggestions, before presenting the same problem.

Don't be too anxious about reciprocity and return, or worse, measure the help in money. Such behavior turns a genuine effort into a rude transaction and can be derogatory and degrading.

Being the person who can also ask is perfected with practice, so that relationships are balanced and inclusive. Ask so you know that the world is a good place to be. Test it.

(The author is president of the Center for Investment Education And learning.)