Sincerity Doesn’t Erase Incompetence – How to Help
You sincerely want to help, but what if you employ strategies and habits that cause harm.
Sincerity doesn’t erase incompetence.
Portraits of lousy helpers:
When time allows, step back and let people struggle with their own challenges and problems.
4 benefits of struggle:
- Grit. Struggle strengthens. Over-protection propagates weakness.
- Openness. When people feel the challenge of struggle, it opens them to receive help. Learning moments often come slowly.
- Respect for help. Quick interventions feel degrading to recipients.
Helping elevates perceived self-worth but lowers the status of others. It’s not helpful to make others feel less competent when you want them to boldly take ownership.
Expert helpers need others to do exactly as they’re told. In the end, dependency develops.
The goal of helping is getting to the place where helping isn’t needed.
3 Tips for humble helpers:
#1. Define help.
There’s a difference between the ‘presenting’ problem and the real concern. Someone might come to you with the ‘presenting’ problem that concerns production.
After some exploration, you might discover that the real problem is fear of bringing up sensitive issues.
It doesn’t help to solve a ‘presenting’ problem while the real issue lurks in the shadows.
Don’t assume you know what help looks like. Maybe they need you to listen, but not solve. Sometimes help is connecting people with experts or resources.
#2. Ask, “What have you tried?”
3 reasons to explore what they’ve tried:
- Send the signal that they are responsible. You share their concern, but the challenge or problem is still theirs.
- Respect their efforts to meet the challenge or fix the problem.
- Eliminate irrelevant suggestions.
#3. Generate options.
NEVER offer potential solutions before competent persons generate their own.
You give power and elevate status when you generate a list of options and ask, “Which would you like to try?”
What makes leaders lousy helpers?
How might leaders become more effective helpers?
Well said. I never assume I know better than the person who needs to solve the problem–I’m only there for answers to questions when asked. That is how I manage both my business and my family.
Thanks Victoria. It’s so easy to slip into false wisdom. We think we know. Maybe we do, but it’s usually more important for people to find their own answers.
There are times when people need someone to give them information, but even then, it’s better to step back and let people make choices, move forward, and learn.
Of course, a burning house isn’t the opportunity to explore options. Someone needs to take the bull by the horns.
This sits like a trap for “the well meaning” and the “Oh, I’ll just do it’s” …
A respect for the development potential of the challenges others face is essential for their growth (at any station of life).
You’re wise to point up that it can be an ego game in our own heads too!
Truth be told I fall into the “I’ll just do it” pit more frequently than I’d like…
Thanks Ken. It’s often so much faster to just do it.
The lousy helpers are very real. Thank you for your transparency. It’s encouraging.
We are lousy helpers when we are “helicopter helpers” and when we ultimately say “let me just do it, it will be easier for both of us.”
I think we can be good leaders when we give a difficult project and then we are a good cheerleaders and they know we are there to help remove roadblocks when necessary.
Good things to always keep in mind. It can be hard to know when real help is needed. Sometimes just waiting a little reveals the truth.
Excellent thoughts on a key issue. We need to choose carefully the type of help we should be providing in each case:giving advice, asking questions, emotional support or some combination of these.