Isn´t it great to know that we´re someone who´s willing to help others, that people in dire straits can count on us in times of need, or even if they´re not in dire straits and look like they need help, we can still help them out. In fact, we pride ourselves on it. We revel in it, we get great satisfaction from helping someone who needs our help, but at what cost to them? We know that the advice we´re giving is valuable and they need it. So why don´t they take it?
What do you mean, “What cost to them?” I´m giving sound advice, common sense, anyone can see that can´t they?
Is it the way we offer our advice, the wrong time, the wrong place, they aren´t open to it because they´re so worried about things going on in their life, or is it something else?
Have you ever sat down with a friend who´s got the whole world on their shoulders because they´ve lost their job, the partner/husband/wife has had an affair, the washing machine broke down and flooded the kitchen floor this morning and they´ve had not time to clear up the flood before having to shove a distraught, screaming toddler into the buggy and rushing off out the door only to find that the car won´t start, or whatever else could and invariably does show up in the problem sector of their lives?
Yes? What did you do? You probably offered unsolicited advice and if you´re a bloke, you tried to solve all her problems, assuming it´s a woman. I say, wrong, wrong, wrong. This is not the way to approach anyone when you want to help. First off, did they even ask for your help? No. Secondly, are most people even likely to ask for help? No. Why not? How about they don´t want to be judged for something they might have done or not done? Or maybe they think they´ll be criticised or put to shame?
So, what is the best way of helping someone who needs our help? It´s easy and yet complicated. Complicated because of all those wonderful filtered lenses we see life through which don´t happen to be the same as everyone else´s funnily enough.
Every single persons view of life is different and yet we make assumptions that their view is the same as ours, which it is up to a point. For example, we categorise everything, so we can make an assumption that when we use the label, “flower,” everyone knows what we´re talking about.
How can we help then? We can start by stopping. Stop assuming we know what people are really talking about. Start by stopping giving our opinions, because that´s all they are, an opinion which happens to be ours and no-one elses. Start by stopping to advise them, because our advice is just that, our advice. It´s tailor-made for us and no-one else. Isn´t that an incredible eye-opener?
Instead, what we can do, is listen quietly and uninterruptedly. No jumping in with both feet ready to say something. Just sit, mouth closed and full attention on them to the exclusion of all else. Then, when they´ve finished, look at asking the right questions. All too often we rush into problem situations on our chivalrous white steeds to the rescue and accidentally kill the person we´re rescuing with our joust.
We are not here to make someone change, we are here to facilitate their epiphanies, of which they will have many, so that they may take control of their own lives.
Transformational Coach & Writer helping professional women to Live Life Freely