How Do I Help?
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
How many of us have had attempts to help back-fire? People are either resentful, or they tell us they’ve already tried what we're recommending and are clearly miffed by our presuming that something that obvious eluded them. Or they listen respectfully, maybe even appreciatively but still continue the same dysfunctional behavior. What’s going on?
First, did we have permission to help, or were we presuming? Give them the power to empower you to help. Don’t trespass. Don’t tread on other people’s sensitivities. To some "advice" comes across as "criticism." Be invitational, not prescriptive.
Second, make sure you know if it was “advice” they are after as opposed to “empathy” or “support” or some help exploring options on their own? Someone who says “I don’t know what to wear,” may actually want to discuss their social butterflies relative to an upcoming event. A client says, “Why won’t they tell me the truth?” Let them teach you about the situation, before you volunteer a perspective. That way there is a balance of teaching and learning, and there is a peer to peer exchange and validation.
Always in helping, know when to butt out when someone “gets” it and is clearly ready to move on their own. Or if someone needs follow-up, try to volunteer that collaboratively and supportively. Leave any savior complexes at the door.
Get off the high horse and join them in the journey.