What is the best way to help others? How can you make a difference and impact in their lives in a sustainable way?
The answer is: Help them help themselves!
Everybody who struggles needs three things. And you can provide these three things by using a coaching style approach.
- Clarity: Help them discover what really the problem is
- Options: Help them understand what their options are moving forward
- Action: Help them create a consistent action plan to follow
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT AND QUOTES:
Hi everybody, it’s Tasso.
I’m sure that at some point in your life you will have come across a situation where a friend or a close person, a family member maybe, struggled and you wanted to help. Maybe they struggled financially, or they were in a difficult relationship, or maybe they lost trust in themselves because they did not see the progress they wanted so much in their lives.
As the good person you are, you did not only want to help, but actually you tried to help them, and you gave them maybe money, or you gave them good advice. Only to realize that you were rejected. Or the person might have actually taken the advice but never acted upon it, or never followed up on this.
Even worse, you wanted to help so much and your intentions were so good that you actually did stuff for them. You went and met people, talked to people, you went to places for them.
I think by now, having gone through a lot in your life, you will have realized that this is not really how help works. Why is this?
Because external advice is what it is, it’s external. It can be some kind of inspiration, or a trigger, or a catalyst. But if somebody truly wants to change, if somebody truly needs a change, this can only come from within. Only when they understand what’s really at stake, what really the problem is, what it takes to change, and why it needs to change, they can go through this. Only if they come up with their own solution, they will actually follow up with this.
Well then, what can you do? How can you help at all?
Everybody who struggles needs three things. And you can provide these three things.
Number one: they need CLARITY.
People who are in deep shit, excuse my expression, they don’t see the forest for the trees. People who struggle, they might think they know what the problem is, but they don’t necessarily do. They might look at what’s at the surface, but they will have not gone in depth. People look at the symptoms because that’s all they see and they don’t see the disease.
I will give you an example. If somebody struggles with their relationship, break up in a relationship, they might tell you that all they want is to get the person back, but that might not be really what they want.
What they really want might be just to understand why they broke up with them, or they might blame themselves and think it’s their fault, so they just don’t want to make the same mistake next time. What they think they know and want is not necessarily what they know and want.
This is where you can help. You can help with clarity and make sure they understand what really is at stake. Now, how can you do that? You can do that by asking questions. You can ask the right questions. You can ask open questions that reveal what is really behind the scenes.
Now, in order to ask the right questions, you need to listen in the right way. How does that work? There are three levels of listening.
Level one listening is when you listen but at the same time have your own thoughts going on in your head. This might actually be the case when you listen to me. No hard feelings by the way. You listen to someone and in your head you think about your own situation. In your head you think about something completely different. Maybe somebody talks to you and tells you something and it reminds you that you need to go for shopping.
Level two listening goes a little bit deeper. You actually understand what the person is talking about. You listen for the words. You know what it is about, a screwed up presentation, or it’s a difficult situation with the boss. You understand what really the problem is.
Level three listening goes beyond that. Level three listening goes into the emotions. HOW people say something. It’s different if people say something like this, or [speaker changes voice] if people say something like this. You listen between the lines. You look for beliefs. You look for values. You look for inconsistencies in what people say.
Once you get there, what you do then is to mirror back. Because people don’t see these things themselves. You can mirror things back by saying, “Wow, you are really frustrated here.” This will open them up and they might continue as, “Yes, yes, yes. You know why?” It will encourage them to keep digging a little bit deeper. And you for your part adapt and ask deeper going questions. “What is really the problem?” “What is the real outcome you want to get out of this?”
That was number one, providing clarity through very, very active listening.
Number two: they need OPTIONS.
People who struggle and often feel they’ve tried it all and they feel they’re with their back at the wall. They believe they’re in a dead end. They cannot possibly imagine that there is anything else they could do.
Your job is to show them the options. What are their choices? What is it that they can do? What resources can they tap in?
These are simple questions one can ask such as, “So, what are your options here?” or “What resources can you tap in to?” or the simplest and yet most powerful question of them all, “What else?”
They might initially react a little bit pissed off and think or say, “But I told you …”. Don’t let that derail you. Keep asking, “What else might you have not considered here?”
This is something that will really help them to understand what their options are. What the different path ways are they can take from the dead end situation they think they are in right now.
Number three: they need ACTION.
Because, knowing what to do and doing what you know, are two completely different things.
You need to help them develop a plan, and think about the elements that can help them move forward. You ask them, “What are you going to do?”, “How are you going to do it?”, “When are you going to do it?” Not altogether obviously, this is not going to happen in one conversation but these are the things that the person needs to think for themselves, and to come up with the solution themselves.
All those three steps (clarity, options, action) similarly do not happen in one conversation. You will have realized that they’re all sequential, and that they can go in cycles.
Maybe at the stage where you get to defining an action, you will realize, “Wait a second, you told me you wanted to do this and that, but in the beginning, you told me that the situation was as such. How does that fit together?”
You might need to go back and look again at the problem. When discussing with someone this is the process that this person is going through.
Now you know, and I have to welcome you to the world of coaching. This is the essence of what coaching is about. These are the three basic steps that coaches help people go through.
It’s about clarity. It’s the biggest gift you can give somebody to help them understand what the problem is. Options to help them understand what there is as a way forward. What they can choose from. The third element is action. To actually and finally take action and be accountable for this.
Here’s a disclaimer at the very end. Of course, you cannot go ahead and just coach people along the way. If somebody comes and complains, or struggles with something, and you’d like to try this approach for once, you need to ask for permission first. You need to establish some sort of contract. You need to say, “Okay, listen, I fully understand you’re in a difficult situation”, or if they are complaining, “I see you’re complaining about this. I can join you in this complaining mode, or if you like, I can ask you a couple of questions, and we can try to figure out what this is about by going a little bit deeper. Are you okay with it?” You need to establish a contract. You need to get permission.
The other thing is, you need to establish an environment of trust. This is absolutely critical to keep a sense of confidentiality. The person needs to be reassured that whatever he or she is about to tell you is going to stay within the two of you. This is absolutely critical in any situation when somebody struggles. When somebody struggles, they’re vulnerable and they feel they’re the only one struggling. They blame themselves because they can’t get out of the situation them themselves. You need to make sure that they feel comfortable, that they are in a protective bubble with you where they feel safe. Okay?
That was how you can help people, the three major elements, and the way you do this. I hope this was helpful. I hope this inspired you to sometimes, not only go to people and tell them what to do, simply because this will not give you the best results. Sometimes, you have to trust that the person already knows what they’re going to do. They know what they have to do. The only thing you need to do is to trigger it out a little bit. You have to ask the right questions and to make they come up with it themselves. You have to make them realize where they are and where they can go. Then finally also, stick to the actions they committed to do.
I hope it was hopeful and thank you very much for listening, or watching this. If you like it, please as always, subscribe. Share as well if you know somebody for whom this useful.
Until the very next blog post, I wish you a wonderful day. Take care.