Probably one of the most straightforward skills, we all know that it’s good to help others. It’s a great thing. It’s inspiring to us when we see someone go out of their way to help someone pick something up, or organize an event to help someone out. But even the smallest things can make a difference, like if a stranger opens a door for us. It is probably the easiest way to make a positive impact right here, right now. Of course, just like with all of the skills, there are many subtleties and unseen benefits you should be aware of.
Why Are You Helping?
Usually helping for any reason is better than not helping at all. But knowing your motivation behind helping in a situation is very important. Help someone because you want to see them be successful, or because you care about their happiness. Do it because you want more people to take the time to consider each other in their daily lives. Do not help someone because you expect something in return. If you do that, you begin to resent people who do not return the favor. Or you just stop helping people in general because you don’t get what you want out of it. But that isn’t the point of helping. Use your awareness to check in with yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and adjust accordingly.
A lot of people do things because they want to be seen a certain way, like a do-gooder. Or because they want to feel important or superior. Sometimes it’s so they can talk about it and get attention from others. Again, use your awareness to check in with yourself why you are really doing what you are doing. Don’t fool yourself. When you help people for the wrong reasons they begin to notice. You come across as insincere and fake. You will lose most of what you gain. But if you make a point to do things because you care – without expectation of reciprocity – you will find it not only more fulfilling but that people will support you and help you in ways you would never have expected.
Help Where Help is Needed
Some of us have a habit of jumping the gun on help. We’re always offering advice, trying to get involved, and telling people what to do even before they have a chance to think it through themselves. It’s important to pay attention to the other person (Understanding) and what they need. Maybe it’s hard for them, but it’s something they need to figure out on their own. Maybe it’s not time to step in yet. Maybe it is. So ask questions, pay attention to their point of view, and gauge what they really need.
The Smallest Things Make a Difference
Ever heard anyone say, “It’s the little things?” If you pay attention, you’ll notice that you get big boosts from people throughout the day. Every time someone holds the elevator for you, stops by for a quick smile and hello, or offers to help you with something you get a boost of joy or relief. These aren’t difficult things, but they make a difference. So do something unexpected and nice for someone, no matter how small. Don’t worry about their response and don’t worry about getting something in return. Even if you don’t see it, you helped someone’s day.
There is an easy rule of thumb: If it takes you 5 minutes or less, and it will help someone, just do it. Do it, know you made a small difference, and continue on your way.
Ask for Help
Another important aspect of this skill is asking for help. Even though we may want to, we just can’t always do everything on our own. It’s important for us to try our best at everything we do. But sometimes we’ll just be more efficient or we’ll be able to contribute better if we get a little advice or an extra set of hands. So don’t be afraid of asking for help when you need it. It can get you where you want to be faster, and it is an opportunity to build up your team.
Clearly the flip side of this is to not abuse the help of others. Asking for help when you need it is different than simply asking others to take work off your plate so you can do other things. Own your responsibilities, but involve others when necessary.
There are many benefits to helping others. Many of them obvious. But over time much research has gone into what makes people happy and successful, and it has consistently shown that actively giving your time and helping others will make you more successful in the long run. However, this only works if you keep Self and Team in mind so you know where to help, and when to say no. Use Trust to identify who you should be putting most of your time towards. But showing that you care about the people around you without expecting anything in return while taking care of yourself has huge potential for you as well as those around you.
There are really untold benefits to actively caring for the people in your community. It is practically impossible to quantify. But we all know how good it feels when someone does it for us. It brings us together, makes us want to help each other more, and helps us go the extra mile when we need to. It could be 20 years down the road, but someone we helped may come out of the woodwork for us just when we need it. These things are easy motivation to pause, put our rushing lives on hold for 5 minutes, and help someone out even in the simplest way.
Note: Don’t feel pressured to do things that make you feel uncomfortable (Again, look out for yourself) but it usually doesn’t hurt to go a little outside your comfort zone. For example, simply saying Hi to co-workers you don’t know that well.
- Every day do something to help someone. If it takes 5 minutes or less, do it. Bonus if they weren’t expecting it.