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Overcoming the 7 Deadly Results of Meddling

drain meddling

Passion for excellence, demand to meet numbers, slow progress, and fierce competition drive managers to step in and “help.”

Never help without asking, it’s meddling.

Ask first; ask often.

Don’t reserve, “How can I help?” for short-fall situations. It sends a message. They aren’t cutting the mustard.

Build supportive cultures by asking, “How can I help?” first and frequently. Ask when things are great.

Avoid, “Do you need help?”

“Do you need help?” is a yes or no question suggesting failure, distress, or weakness. “How can I help?” implies good will and collaboration.

What if they don’t know?

It’s your fault if they need help and don’t know it? Goals are fuzzy, deliverables are distant and obscure, feedback is rare, or reporting is sporadic. Clarify expectations up front. Ask, “How is your project going?” more often. Meddlers unexpectedly intervene in the middle.

Don’t meddle in the middle; help along the way.

Address a foggy middle with collaborative conversations. Clarify goals and outcomes. Set dates for progress reports. Ask, “How can I help.”


  1. Insults.
  2. De-motivates.
  3. Suggests disappointment.
  4. Controls and frustrates.
  5. Begins with your frustration and creates frustration in others.
  6. Ends thought. They say, “ OK, what do you want to do?”
  7. Weakens relationships.


  1. Energizes.
  2. Instills confidence.
  3. Releases and frees.
  4. Ends frustration.
  5. Invites creativity.
  6. Strengthens connections.
  7. Affirms others and equalizes social status.

Today’s challenge: Ask, “How can I help?” twice before lunch and twice after lunch.

Thanks to the former CEO of Campbell’s Soup, Doug Conant, for his passionate, “How can I help?” approach to leadership. It helps me.

Great insights from my Facebook family: Helping becomes meddling when ______.

How does meddling make you or others feel?

What does healthy helping look like from your perspective?

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