Many people find giving help hard work. How many times have you tried simply to talk about what is bothering you, only to be met with “well – here’s what I would do”? With the implicit message that you should do that too.
Operating with the best of intentions we may give what we think is help before we are sure what help is required, before we are sure that any help is being asked for.
We’re asked a question and we answer it. In your experience – have you answered a question (helpfully) only to find out later that the person was intent on some purpose to the conversation other than the one you jumped to?
Let’s see if we can get better at giving help.
When you are asked a question or think you are being asked for help see if you can:
- Let the person know you are listening.
- Encourage the person to keep talking, by saying nothing, or try something neutral like “tough one”, “you seem worried about it”. The more the other person talks the more likely you will both find the focus of the conversation.
- Offer no advice until explicitly asked for it. Until you get the go-ahead to help, any advice is unsolicited and likely to be resisted.
- Preface any help with something like “something you might consider if you wanted to …’. The responsibility to do anything with your advice, and the choice to do anything with your help is the other person’s – so let’s make that clear upfront.
The vice of advice – giving unsolicited advice is like using crack – addictive for you – and you don’t have to put up with the consequences. Those who take the advice do.
By Joe Moore. Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can contact Joe here