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Posted on Feb 7, 2010 in Marketing and Web 2.0 | 6 comments

The difference between wanting help and being ready to accept help

The difference between wanting help and being ready to accept help

Help!

Image by D3 San Francisco via Flickr

In life, we are each frequently in the position of being able to offer help to others.  This may come in the form of giving advice to a loved one, strategizing on behalf of a client or your company, or just sitting back and listening to a friend rant about their day.

If you really pay attention, though, you may notice something in a tone of voice or a type of request that gives you pause.  Perhaps the request is phrased in a very reactive way: “our competitors are using twitter, we need to be using it too” / “my boyfriend is acting weird, what do I do!”.  What you’re noticing is anxiety.  When we’re caught in anxiety about our situation or feel pressured, our ask for assistance may carry an extra layer of “save me” desperation.

The thing about anxiety and desperation is that it tends to overwhelm our ability to actually be productive or address a situation in a meaningful way.  We get caught in it, rather than being able to calmly assess the situation and figure out the best possible course of action.  At that point, any advice offered would only be taken reactively in a “I hope this will fix me” kind of way, and will not last in the long term, and in fact keeps “crisis mode” first and foremost.

The first step in any situation is for the person or organization to pause and take stock of the current situation, before any action is taken.  This should always be our initial recommendation.

When you see companies focused on tactics (e.g. a twitter account sending out press releases, a Facebook page with only a few fans and no content, a blog with comments disabled), try to be compassionate.  They’re not thinking straight. In order to truly be able to help, we need to learn how to identify the tone of the request, and offer compassion and support in different ways.  If someone is not ready to accept help, then any recommendation we may offer will be wasted.

Our job as people who “get it” is not to call #fail on companies doing a bad job, or to shake our heads as someone asks us yet again why anyone should bother to communicate online.  It may be frustrating, but we can remember that it is our job to help guide the from a place of fear to a level of understanding and acceptance, before making any strategic or tactical recommendations whatsoever.  If we want them to resonate, we must be patient and encourage a moment to pause for reflection of their current standing, platform, and opportunities.  Only when they are ready for help will any recommendation be effective.

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  • murphypdx

    Great thoughts. They apply for work and what we do with clients daily. but Its probably just as applicable for my relationship with my wife. Especially when I offer her tech support on her PC.

  • murphypdx

    Great thoughts. They apply for work and what we do with clients daily. but Its probably just as applicable for my relationship with my wife. Especially when I offer her tech support on her PC.

  • http://www.hymla.com Randall Krause

    This insightful post makes such an important point: That people are at times in a reactive state of mind and heart, and until that reactivity is pacified, they won’t be able to really be able to access their innate wisdom and will not benefit from any input we might give.

    This is true with others, and with ourselves too. Whenever there is fear, anxiety, or anger, it’s almost as if the mind and heart go unconscious, we go on automatic, and act our of desperation. Unfortunately, our desperate actions are usually lacking in wisdom.

    So, as Jeremy so wisely advises, “it is our job to help guide them from a place of fear to a level of understanding and acceptance, before making any strategic or tactical recommendations”, and I’d extend this to working with ourselves too.

    Thank you Jeremy for reminding me of this crucial point.

  • http://www.hymla.com Randall Krause

    This insightful post makes such an important point: That people are at times in a reactive state of mind and heart, and until that reactivity is pacified, they won’t be able to really be able to access their innate wisdom and will not benefit from any input we might give.

    This is true with others, and with ourselves too. Whenever there is fear, anxiety, or anger, it’s almost as if the mind and heart go unconscious, we go on automatic, and act our of desperation. Unfortunately, our desperate actions are usually lacking in wisdom.

    So, as Jeremy so wisely advises, “it is our job to help guide them from a place of fear to a level of understanding and acceptance, before making any strategic or tactical recommendations”, and I’d extend this to working with ourselves too.

    Thank you Jeremy for reminding me of this crucial point.

  • http://www.zendirtzendust.com John

    Interesting post. I, as a library coordinator and as a hobby blogger, have the fantastic job of getting staff to “buy into” social media. This has proved to be a very difficult process.

    The heart of the matter isn’t in the “buy-in” but in the engagement part of the media. And that is where we fall short. I try to explain that twitter and a blog is about engagement first and information sharing second. That is a difficult pill for librarians (especially the old school ones) to swallow.

    There is a proactive element to social media that needs to go beyond the head-shaking and #fail monikers. We need to understand that social media (as with the Dharma) exists on many comfort levels. You can’t throw a Zennist into the midst of a Tibetan temple without expecting some time of adjustment.

    The Dharma benefits all but we need to get on board where it is comfortable.

    Cheers,

    John

    http://www.zendirtzendust.com

  • http://www.zendirtzendust.com John

    Interesting post. I, as a library coordinator and as a hobby blogger, have the fantastic job of getting staff to “buy into” social media. This has proved to be a very difficult process.

    The heart of the matter isn’t in the “buy-in” but in the engagement part of the media. And that is where we fall short. I try to explain that twitter and a blog is about engagement first and information sharing second. That is a difficult pill for librarians (especially the old school ones) to swallow.

    There is a proactive element to social media that needs to go beyond the head-shaking and #fail monikers. We need to understand that social media (as with the Dharma) exists on many comfort levels. You can’t throw a Zennist into the midst of a Tibetan temple without expecting some time of adjustment.

    The Dharma benefits all but we need to get on board where it is comfortable.

    Cheers,

    John

    http://www.zendirtzendust.com