Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Or at least an attempt at paragraph blogging (I find it hard to stop writing, so maybe this will help!) The idea was proposed by Ann Loseva and Kate @springcait.

Today two different trainees on my current CELTA course mentioned that they didn’t want to ask for help because they felt like they might be bothering people. This is a feeling I often used to have, but I’m hoping I’ve got over now.*

What I’ve realised is that most of the time when you ask somebody something, they’ll say yes.

Need help? Ask: you’ll get it.

Stuck at home and bored? Invite somebody to do something with you: they’ll do it.

Nobody to spend your birthday with? Tell your friends: someone will be free.

What’s the worst that can happen? They might say no.

And if they do? At least you tried.

We’re normally a lot more worried about bothering other people than they are about being bothered.

Of course, it’s a two-way street. You have to be prepared to say yes when other people bother you. After all, you never know where it might take you.

Me in a fighter plane on the USS Midway

When travelling alone, you don’t get photos like this without bothering other people!

* I still have trouble getting started on a new social life when I move somewhere new, but four months of CELTAs and moving round a lot have (hopefully!) made me a bit more proactive. We’ll see what happens when I move to Poland!

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Comments on: "Am I bothering you? (paragraph blogging)" (10)

  1. A tip my dad gave me (good for when you move to a new place): say yes to every invitation even if you’re feeling a little bit tired/lazy/homesick/sceptical that it will be fun. People (not counting close friends) generally invite you to do something once and they might be reluctant to do so a second time if you say no.

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    • That’s a very good tip. Sometimes you have to create the invitations though – I always say yes, but sometimes I have to wait a while for them to start happening 🙂 I’ve had some very random experiences that way, and I wouldn’t go back and change any of them!

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  2. Hana Tichá said:

    On the other hand, Sandy, it’s good to learn to say ‘no’ .. . for the sake of your sanity 🙂 By the way, I once refused someone’s help because I didn’t want to burden that person (I said “No, thanks, I’ll manage myself”), and I was immediately and seriously reprimanded by another person who was present. I didn’t understand at all but later I learned that it was inappropriate in that particular cultural environment. I’m a little wiser now.

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    • That’s also true, but you need to think carefully about what your ‘no’ might lose you 😉 before you day it! (and remember that there are only so many hours in the day)

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  3. The thing with feeling like you’re bothering someone by asking for help (for example) is what’s the worst that will happen? If someone asked you, would you respond irritated and dislike them? No, of course not. I’ve never quite understood this worry, unless of course the person in question asked repeatedly without trying to solve it first themselves. It seems like a self-confidence issue moreso.

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    • I agree, Tyson. The main time I’ve worried about ‘bothering’ people in the past is organising my free time – I’ve questioned things like whether people will already have plans, or whether they might not want to go to a place they’ve been to a hundred times before. But as I said above, they can just say no if that’s the case.

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  4. The thing is for me, in some cultures it would be quite rude to deny a request, no matter how big or how much you don’t want to do it. I have to always be conscious of that before I ask for help. At the same time, I once got in big trouble with one of my friends because I didn’t call him (from another city in the middle of the night when he had an infant at home) after getting in a car accident. I thought I was being considerate, but to him ‘friend’ means someone you *must* call in the middle of the night from another city when you are in trouble.

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    • The cultural difference is an important factor, but I wonder if it’s possible to ask for help in such a way that people can choose to ignore the request if they don’t want to/can’t say yes. Hmmm…
      As for your friend, in one way I can understand his reaction, but in anither, he must see why you chose not call him. Perhaps the next morning, but not in the middle of the night, unless he was the only person you could ask for help and it was choice between that and being alone.
      Thanks for sharing that Anne.

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  5. I think it is also important to know who you can ask for help and what kind of help you can ask for. In two-way friendships this is normal but when we are newcomers it is difficult to know who to turn to. Still, we need to stretch out of our comfort zones and make contact with others. Some of the people who were there for me when I first came to Austria over 30 years ago are my closest friends today. Another thing to remember is that we also give back and that is something I have been grateful for. Along with all the support and help I have had over the years, often the happiest moments for me were those where I felt I was helping someone else by giving back in whatever way I could.

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  6. I always ask for help – to tell you the truth, I don’t think about it much. If someone is bothered, they can always say no. The worst thing it could happen is that someone may think I am annoying! (LOL) How will you know who likes you if you hesitate to communicate anyway?

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