Blog Home

Why Being Helpful Can Be Such A Challenge

When you come across someone who is truly helpful to everyone around them, regardless of their level or status, you know you have found someone special.

I’ve been privileged to work with several people like this, and this trait makes a huge difference in their effectiveness.

I’ve worked hard to mimic these stellar people, and it is tough to do so consistently! But it is worth it to try to be more helpful. After all, nothing boosts your credibility more than dedicating yourself to those around you.

Why is this difficult?

For me, this was challenging because when I first encountered a selfless person early in my career, I felt as though I was so far behind and that all I could do was work on catching up with those around me. I was the junior member of the team, by far, and I thought there was no room in my life to give to others. I was in a mad dash to catch up! How wrong I was.

When you’re feeling underwater and swamped by too much work and too much learning and development that you need to do yourself, one of the best ways to get through these challenges is to help others. It fundamentally changes your mindset and minimizes the intensity of the issues you have at the time.

Another reason to help others is that a service attitude is contagious. When others see you helping someone else, they think, “Who can I help?” It is incredible when you see people helping others by following your lead.

What a Service Attitude Isn’t

One of the ways people try to be selfless is to take on the burden of the person who needs help. One of the critical things in a healthy serving scenario is that ownership and responsibility remain in the hands of the person you’re helping. It doesn’t do them any good if you take the problem as your own and then solve it.

If you take the issue from them and resolve it, you haven’t helped them much at all. Sure, you’ve taken the burden away from them to get the work done, but you haven’t helped them solve this problem (or one like it) in the future! You’re not always going to be there, and being of service is to help THEM solve the issue — not take the burden from them.

Being Available

Another pitfall of being of service is to understand when someone wants help versus just wanting to vent or have you listen to a problem (not solve it or offer solutions).

A simple but, sometimes, intimidating way to do this is to ask, “Do you want my advice?” or “Can I help you solve this?” These responses are a great way to get consent from the person who you think is in need. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to solve someone’s issue when they just wanted me to listen and be supportive.

You can’t force the issue. If they want help, be as supportive as you can be. If they just want you to listen, then be that ear for them.

Helping people has to be on their terms, not yours.

No matter your status or experience level, being more helpful is a smart strategy. It helps you gain credibility, and it spurs others around you to be more supportive too — a win for you and your team.

It is not easy in all circumstances. But remember these three things, and you’ll be on your way to becoming known as super helpful!