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The Thing About Help

  • Posted on September 3, 2012 at 8:00 AM

I’m not sure this is going to work, but I’m going to try. People like to ask me “How do you do it?” Part of the answer is that I get a lot of positive support and assistance. I have a pretty awesome support network. The key there, of course, is the positive support.

Part of that is being surrounded and accepted by a lot of great people. But that alone isn’t enough. In my experience, you have to teach people how to help you. Because the help people want differs from person to person, from family to family, from need to need.

There are a lot of people who are great about offering their assistance and their support. This is great! But, the thing of it is, this often comes in the form of “The Golden Rule.” They offer the assistance and support they think they’d want if they were in your shoes. Usually, they’re not in your shoes. And they are most certainly not you.

But here’s another interpretation of “The Golden Rule.” Instead of offering what they think they’d want, they can offer the respect they’d want, which translates into giving (to the extent that they are willing and able) you what you want, which is what they’d really want you to do.

This brings us to another problem. They don’t know what you want. They don’t know what help you need. They don’t know what would work for you. So, you’ve got to tell them! This works best if you take the pressure off. Don’t make it: DO THIS, DON’T DO THAT! Start a conversation. “I know you’d really like to help, and I could sure use it, so why don’t we talk about some things I can use some help with and we’ll see if there’s anything you’d like to do.”

Of course, this assumes you know what you need. There are times when you don’t. But start the conversation anyway. Exchange ideas. Find what works for the both of you. If they really want to help, they’ll work with you on finding helpful ways to help.