General Question

gimmedat's avatar

When people ask to let them know if you need anything, do you think they really mean it? Would it be more advantageous for one to simply take charge and do something?

Asked by gimmedat (3943points) April 27th, 2009 from iPhone

I’m laid up recovering from neck surgery. I have had a ton of people, from family to friends to co-workers, ask me to let them know if I or my family needs anything. I am truly touched by the sentiment, and most appreciative of the co-worker who coordinated a three week dinner delivery plan so that my husband and I may focus on keeping the fam running smoothly while Mom is out of commission. Three weeks of homemade dinners for a family of five – that is one of the most touching things I’ve ever experienced. But, I digress. When people ask where help is needed, do you feel comfortable asking? I don’t. Then I get all witty and ask for the name of a plastic surgeon who can take care of my Frankenstein scar, or for a 40 oz. of Old English and a pack of Marlboro menthol lights, just to check reactions. I’d really like someone to clean my house, but I just can’t ask.

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17 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

People are saying that they’re there for you if and when you need them.
You can’t take advantage of those offers to get your house painted though.

Best of luck and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

gimmedat's avatar

See, that’s the thing. I’m not trying to take advantage of anyone’s kindness. I get what they’re saying, but it’s difficult for me to ask for that kind of help.

And no…I didn’t really want beer and cigarettes.

knitfroggy's avatar

I think some people really mean it and others are just saying it to have something nice to say. I’m guilty of it, I’ve said it, not really meaning it and so far it’s not backfired on me.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I don’t think asking for help is necessarily taking advantage of them if you really need the help. Hubby can clean the house. heh

augustlan's avatar

I know what you mean, gimmedat! People mean well, but they don’t know what you really need so they are vague. It’s hard to turn a general offer of help into a request for specific help. :(

I’d probably be able to ask a really close friend to clean my house (or get me beer and cigarettes!), but not anyone else.

It’s great that you’ve got the food thing covered… that was a really nice thing for them to do. I hope you’re feeling better soon, and if there’s anything you need… ;-)

gimmedat's avatar

Yes, hubby can and does clean the house. I happen to be a neat freak. It’s not something I would ask for, it’s being taken care of. So no house cleaning. Can I ask for lawn care? JOKE.

gailcalled's avatar

I find it better to say “How can I help? Be specific.” rather than “Let me know if you need anything.”

qualitycontrol's avatar

If you don’t mean something why say it?? A true friend would offer to do anything for you and if you asked they would be all over it. If my buddy needed me to shave his cat because his fingers got cut off off I would be on top of it no problem. I guess some people just say it and expect you not to ask for anything…People these days

knitfroggy's avatar

@qualitycontrol When I say it to my closest friends or family I do mean it and would do anything they need. But sometimes I say it to people that I’m not as close to. If they did happen to call and need something I’d do it if I could and would feel good about it. Usually the people that I say it to to be nice probably wouldn’t call me if they did need anything anyway. So, you’re right-why say anything?

Lupin's avatar

I just went over an mowed my neighbor’s lawn when it needed it. I just did it because he’s a farmer and would rather die than ask.
Years ago, I fell off my roof while fixing the rain gutters and was taken away by ambulance. When I returned from the emergency room, with about 30 stitches in my arm, the rain gutters were all installed. He just did it because it needed to be done.

cookieman's avatar

I agree with @gailcalled. If you mean it, be specific and follow up.

If it’s someone I’m close with, I’ll just go ahead and do something I know they’d like. My wife is really good at this.

I hate when people blow smoke up my ass.

gimmedat's avatar

@cprevite, some people are just take charge, and I love it! Others, I’m wondering to myself if they really mean it. Like co-workers I don’t really hang with, but they don’t know what else to say. I am totally grateful for the kind words, and well wishes, but I would feel really weird asking for anything from them.

Dorkgirl's avatar

When I offer my assistance I mean it. And, I’ll do what’s asked.
I also like to offer specific things to my family or friends in need—such as, would you like me to pick the kids up this week? Or Can I do your grocery shopping? I can come by and fold laundry if you’d like.
That’s a concrete thing that the recipient can latch onto and run with.
My sister-in-law is having a lot of difficulty right now and she does not always know what she needs help with but she knows she needs it. If she doesn’t need what I’ve offered, she knows I’ve opened the door for her to ask for something else.
You could email a few of your friends or family who’ve offered assistance and say, “I’ve really appreciated that you are supporting us and that you’ve offered to give assistance. What I really need help with is some housecleaning, laundry and homework with the kids. Is anyone up for lending a hand in these areas?”
This approach leaves it to those who are up to the challenge to chime in and help you where you need it most.
I hope your recovery goes well and you get the help you need!

cookieman's avatar

@gimmedat: Co-workers or acquaintences, I wish they would just say, “I’m so sorry…best of luck…you’ll be in my thoughts”. But some folks are just bad at knowing what to say – it can be awkward.

But they mean well, I’m sure.

@Dorkgirl has the right idea.

I hope you feel better soon.

cak's avatar

I went through several surgeries and many chemo treatments, I needed help, but hated to ask. I had people always offering, but I didn’t call upon them, because I felt the same as you. However, the true gift was when one of my friends took charge and said, “Okay, clearly, she’s going to be in for months – which I was in the hospital, for months! We need to help her husband and help with the kids. I had a friend that helped with transporting the kids around. I had others that cooked many meals for the family, my husband said that at least 5 days out of a 7 day week, there was a meal ready for the family. We did have someone coming in to clean, but my really close girlfriends would come in and do what they call a “CAK clean!” They tend to be like me, a bit more of a clean freak!

They never let the ball drop and there is nothing that I can do (yes, I sent thank you notes and I’ve done random things that they never expected!) to really show how grateful I was for their help. My husband said he has never seen such a group of great people. We treat our friends like family. I’d do anything I could to help them, I’m thankful they did that for my family.

I have learned that it’s okay to ask, people will really surprise you. However, it’s when you don’t have to ask, that’s when it really blows you away.

by the way, I have a few scars from brain surgeries…tumors, nasty little boogers. I call mine Frankenstein scars, too! :)

Dorkgirl's avatar

Thanks for the props @cprevite

john66pennington's avatar

This is a common phrase used in funeral homes at the death of a loved one. i really do believe most people are sincere when they ask this question to a person left behind. i know i mean it when i ask if they need anything. and, you are too.

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