How many times have you used the following phrases? I should probably ask, “How many times have you heard the following phrases?” We often don’t hear our own words, but we sure hear others words.
- Don’t do it that way.
- This will work better.
- I see your problem.
- Have you thought of…
- I’ll correct that for you.
- I can help.
These words and phrases are often used under the guise of trying to help. But, are they helpful?
What’s your reaction when someone says, “Don’t do it that way.”
- Fine, do it yourself.
- I’ll wait for you to tell me specifically what to do. (And I won’t do anything else)
Reaction to any of the other statements will be similar.
- This will work better. (Not if you understood the entire issue)
- I see your problem. (It’s not my problem, it’s our problem and you don’t see all the issues)
- Have you thought of.. (We’ve had a team working on this and thought about every possible angle you can think of)
- I’ll correct that for you. (Fine, then the problem is yours)
- I can help. (Not by second guessing everything we’ve done)
So how does someone truly help?
- First by genuinely asking if help is wanted.
- If the answer is yes. Then by asking what form of help might be useful or desired.
Notice that so far, no specific “help” have been offered. But by asking what type of help would be useful, there may be multiple answers.
- If you could cover this other project while we grapple with this one, that would be great.
- Would you simply listen to the issues as we’ve framed them and see if anything else comes to mind?
- Would you mind compiling some of this data for us? I think if we could see it all together it might be useful.
Usually, the best form of help you can offer is simply asking what type of help would be useful. Once the person or team is confident that you really want to help in any way you can, multiple ways of helping will become evident.
Don’t express what you think will help. Simply offer to help in any way needed. People really appreciate it.