Even the best employees need support sometimes. But it can be hard to ask. You may not want to admit that you’re struggling. Or maybe you’re worried about what your boss will think. Asking for a workplace support may feel particularly stressful if disability or neurodivergence is part of the issue.
Use these sentence starters to help you confidently ask for what you need — or to ask for help if you’re not sure what you need.
1. “I want to do the best job I can. Can we talk for a few minutes about some challenges I’m having with __________?”
This sentence starter can help with two key aspects of asking for workplace support.
Identify the challenge you’re having before you talk to your boss. What are you struggling with at work? Try to be as specific as possible. Is the office so noisy that you get distracted? Is it hard to be on camera during meetings? Is it difficult to take notes during the meeting? What have you tried so far to address the issue?
Choose when to start the conversation. Look for a time when you know you’ll have your manager’s attention. For example, during a one-on-one meeting. Ideally, you want to talk when your boss isn’t stressed. Consider asking your boss, “When would be a good time for us to talk about this?”
2. “In the past, __________ has helped me get these tasks done. Would it be possible to get __________?”
This sentence starter works if you already have a clear idea of what can help.
Think about what’s been useful to you in the past. If there’s something specific you want to ask for, be ready to explain how it will help you do the job better. For example, if you need to ask for a flexible schedule, tell your manager how this change will help you be productive and meet deadlines.
3. “I’m struggling with __________. I want to try __________ instead to get the job done. Are you OK with that?”
This sentence starter can help if there’s something new you want to try.
Think about what you’ve researched or seen other people do. Explore examples of workplace supports that can help people who learn and think differently.
4. “If I could get __________, I think I could do these tasks faster. Can we talk about how to make that happen?”
This sentence starter can help if you think a workplace support can improve speed or efficiency.
In general, think about how to frame your request to help meet your employer’s goals. A workplace support that helps you get things done faster could help your team be more productive. That could help your organization as a whole.
5. “I could use your advice. How would you suggest handling __________?”
This sentence starter can help if you’re looking for ideas about what to try.
Ask your manager to brainstorm with you. You could also say what you’ve been doing and ask for ideas on what else could help: “I’m working on __________. I’ve been trying __________. Do you have a suggestion for what might work better?”
When asking for workplace supports, keep it simple and straightforward. You don’t need to apologize or give tons of information. For example, if you have ADHD, you don’t have to explain everything about it. You can focus on the specific issue and finding a solution.
Explore these resources to help you think about what you want to say:
About the author
About the author
Molly Touger is a writer and instructional designer based in Brooklyn, New York.
James Emmett, MS is the lead workplace strategist for Understood, supporting our efforts to create more inclusive workplaces for people with disabilities.