Over 20 years ago, I attended a very powerful, experiential and memorable training course in California. The trainers never referred to any notes and attendees were not allowed to take any either. No photos or use of recording devices of any kind was allowed. Yet, many of the lessons I learned made such an impact, they are very much with me today and an integral part of my life, both personally and professionally.
Here is one of those lessons and I hope you find it useful especially when working with children. I often say to my clients, “I won’t help you.” As you might imagine this is often received with some surprise. As a holistic health and life coach, they have come to me to improve some aspect of their health, wellness and well-being …
Offering ‘help’ implies helplessness. Stepping in uninvited and saying, “let me help you with that” can be, and often is received as a violation of space and may be interpreted as control and superiority. The trainer on the course I attended told a personal story about his young son. He stepped in uninvited with something his son was seemingly struggling with, and took over the task at hand for him. The result? … anger and tears from his son. The Fatherly good intentions and intervention was in that moment, unwelcome and unwanted. His son did not ask for any ‘help’ and would have preferred to figure it out and persevere with the prevailing issue himself. Sound familiar?
The key message and important simple lesson here …
ASK … the person if they want any assistance, support, help, or a hand or however you choose to phrase it. You allow them to decide and invite you in. They will feel empowered, respected, and get to choose. You are honouring their choice even if you know you have the answer or solution to what they may be struggling with. They are learning the process of doing it for themselves and can ask for information, advice, coaching and access your knowledge and benefit from your wisdom if they want it.
When I establish what the issues / problems / challenges, or however someone describes their priorities for improvement and change, I ask, “would you like some assistance with that?” and, “is it okay to change this?” We get very clear on what the desired outcome is and focus on what is wanted. Then the co-creative and cooperative process of change is set in motion and the outcome easier to achieve and maintain.
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