“The more I help others to succeed, the more I succeed.” – Ray Kroc
To have the desire to help others is a wonderful thing. However, I think it’s fair to say that people helping is not always helpful. Even if you think you don’t know what you mean, I am fairly certain that you do.
Have you ever had someone come into the house and try to be helpful when what they are actually doing is just getting under your feet? Have you ever been in need of help, but been given help you don’t need because the person ‘helping’ you forgot to actually ask what you needed? Have you ever been in a situation where someone is merely helping you in order to be seen helping you, and therefore doing the bare minimum?
I’m sure you can recognise at least one of these. So, that begs the question, have you ever been the giver of unhelpful help before? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t. Regardless, if being of assistance is something you want to be, whether to a specific person or in your life in general, here are a few things to mull over…
1. Do Not Assume What is Helpful
Unsolicited advice can be very annoying. It’s the same with unsolicited help. The person in need of assistance knows what they need, and you, not being them, may not. It is unhelpful to assume what they need based on your own thoughts about what you might require in that situation. An example from my own life is that my lovely mother-in-law was trying to help pack up my son’s lunchbox the other day so that she could take him out and I could get to work. However, I already had the packing organised and in hand, and she kept trying to pack things that weren’t his, or to search for things that had already been packed. If she had just given me a little space or asked what I needed, it would have been a much smoother morning.
2. Ask and Listen
This brings me to this next point. If you are not completely sure what the other person needs from you, then ask. It is a simple thing to do, yet one that we so often miss. The problem with this is that you may have the ‘helpee’, as it were, being very British about the whole thing, and insisting that they don’t need anything. Try to encourage honesty from them if you can!
Also, when they do make requests for help, listen. If you have asked the question, stay around for the response and listen to it consciously and carefully.
3. Conscious Empathy
People who need help are often in a situation where they are not feeling entirely themselves. If you are helping with the set up of an event, the organiser you are helping may well be stressed and have a lot going on in their head. If you are helping someone in recovery from an injury, they are probably struggling mentally as well as physically. Try to make a point of being empathetic when you are helping. Indeed, a moment of conscious and focused empathy from you to the person you are helping, might be the very help they needed.
4. Don’t Make It About You
When somebody is in a situation where they need help, you may want to offer that help. However, sometimes being helpful is about us wanting to be seen as good people. I have seen situations where people have asked if a person wants help and decided that the help they require isn’t the kind of help they want to give. Therefore, they have either assisted performatively and inefficiently, or withdrawn their offer. Help is about the other person at all times. Further to all this, if your help is rejected, try not to take it personally.
5. Be Positive
One of the best things you can do to be helpful is to be a positive and uplifting force. Be happy to be there. Talk joyfully about the bright side of things. Distract the distressed parties with joy and happiness. Do not underestimate the power of positive vibes!
By Chris Thomson
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