Helping people and being helped

by Gillian Pritchett on July 5, 2011

I was in luck today and was able to listen to Michael Port’s Think Big Revolution call that he generously does every Tuesday at noon EST. This week the discussion was about reaching out to people for help. Michael shared a lot of useful insights as did the people participating in the call so I really learned a lot from it for example:

  • when you reach out to someone and ask them to help you be clear what help you want
  • if you participate in a call or attend an event with someone experienced who could help you don’t (metaphorically speaking) let them open the door to you and then turn and walk away in the other direction – you went there to learn so take the opportunity to learn
  • if you ask an experienced person / expert for help think big not small – approach the person in a courteous manner, be respectiful of their time but don’t approach them in a small, apologetic way – be comfortable with yourself and your own value
  • when someone asks you for help be careful to give the right help – may be they just need some sympathy, some understanding, some help that they can easily implement

I really had to think about a few things after this call. One of them is a personal thing – helping my mum back in the UK – I get frustrated sometimes when I try to help her – for example I try to get her someone to help clean the house, someone to visit her from time to time but then having complained she resists my solution – a friend suggested that maybe all she really wants is for me to sympathise and to show understanding. I shared this with Michael and he said that even with our clients we should start by sympathising and seeking to understand them rather than diving in with the solution.

This lead me to a further thought – I know I have a habit of so wanting to help someone that I now fear I sometimes (often ?) offer a solution that is either me taking over so they feel they’re losing control or I suggest something that is too advanced for them. As one lady on the todays call said: “sometimes they are just learning to walk and I want them to run.”

We hear so much about giving clients what they want, of the importance of ensuring that we’re the aspirin that removes their pain, the solution that brings them happiness, more time whatever but …..perhaps …..we should identify what the person WANTS and then, by careful questioning, discover HOW they want to achieve what they want. This would better enable us to provide the appropriate solution or refer them to the person who can.

What do you think ? I really hope you’ll share your thoughts on this topic and some of your own experiences both as a consumer of services and as a provider of services.

(BTW – if you want to know more about Michael Port and the Think Big Revolution click here)

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