Your Support Networks
Getting help when you need it
When under intense stress, it is very
natural to withdraw from the world and concentrate
exclusively on solving the problem that
is causing the stress. Sometimes this is
a useful and appropriate reaction.
Often, it is not. This is particularly
the case as the projects you take on get
bigger and bigger: One person working on
his or her own simply cannot achieve tasks
beyond a certain size. Similarly, many stressful
situations cannot be resolved without the
help of other people.
We all have networks of people who can
help us solve problems. This network extends
professionally and socially, as well as
including our family and public services.
Within your organization, your professional
networks include relations with your boss,
mentors within the organization, colleagues,
your team, previous colleagues and organizational
support services. Outside your organization,
they can include professional contacts,
clients, suppliers (who may provide services
that specifically address the problem),
professional organizations, trades unions,
trades associations and many others.
Your social networks obviously include
your friends, clubs and social organizations.
Your close and extended family is obviously
Finally, there is a raft of state and independent
organizations whose purpose may be to help
you solve the problems you are facing.
These people can give help and support
in a wide variety of ways, including:
- Physical assistance: This
can be financial or direct help, or provision
of useful resources.
- Political assistance:
Other people can use their influence and
personal networks on your behalf to help
with the situation, for example, by persuading
other people to move deadlines, change
what they are doing or help directly.
- Information: People
may have information that helps in the
situation or solves the problem, or may
have personal experience that can help
you. They may have solved the problem
before, or may have seen the problem solved
- Problem solving: Similarly,
they may be able to help you to think
through how to solve the problem. Just
explaining a problem clearly to someone
else can bring a problem into focus so
that the solution is obvious. Alternatively,
other people may have problem solving
skills you do not have, or may just be
fresh and unstressed enough to see good
- Reassurance: People
can also give emotional support and reassurance
when you may be starting to doubt yourself,
can help you put problems into context
or can help you find solace elsewhere.
Others can cheer you up when you are feeling
When you are under pressure, make sure
that you ask for help when you need it.
Having said this, it is worth being cautious
in asking for help from people. People can
help, but they can also hinder. They can
give the wrong advice or can waste your
time leading you down blind alleys. Pragmatically,
if someone is going to help you, you need
to be sure that they have the resources
you need. These might be experience, connections,
or good judgment, as well as the obvious
resources of time, money or willingness
People can also tire of giving support
if it is asked for too often. This is particularly
the case when they have to deal with someone
who is negative. It is much more satisfying
to help someone who is actively trying to
solve problems than it is to try to help
someone who seems to have already given
People can also tire if support is a one-way
process: You also need to provide a reasonable
level of help and support to your friends,
family and colleagues, particularly to the
ones who help you the most.
However stressed you are, you need to keep
talking to people and building your relationships
with them. There are very good, practical
reasons for having fun with people you like!
In the next
article, we look at the importance of