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When, why, how do you give & receive help?

The theme of help feels very strong in my world at the moment:

  • Yesterday was spent helping my parents navigate the tech challenges from making catch up TV appear on the screen to identifying what's making the mobile randomly stop working and

  • In helping someone think through their coach supervision needs, I identified my own supervision needs

  • I've received thanks from clients who've experienced our sessions as helpful and generative in new insights, awareness and action

On the whole, I am much better at giving and being helpful than I am at asking for or receiving help. If you imagine a continuum of Giving to Receving help, my natural stance is tipped towards Giving.

Neither is right or wrong, but if you think about it, there has to be some balance. If we were all just Givers, then who would be there to receive it? According to the Science of Happiness course held at Berkeley, giving is key to our sense of well-being. So to support our general well-being, we don't just need to give, but also receive with thanks to support the well-being of others.

One of my challenges is asking for help. I have a very strong self-sufficiency value and believe that I should have a go at working it out before I ask for any help. Combine this with a desire not to waste anyone's time (because I don't like my time wasted), it means that I find it difficult to know what help might look like and believe that someone wants to help me.

So giving is a much easier place for me. I don't even mind if my giving falls a bit flat and isn't needed. Although I do like to be told one way or the other so I can adapt and learn from what I choose to give. And I only give, when it is on my own terms. Please don't expect me to give when I haven't planned it!

And I'm working on improving how I receive help. Being helped, generally makes me feel hot and uncomfortable. I have the sensation of a spotlight being shined on me and this triggers heat, I struggle to show up in my vulnerability. It's about unpicking years of being told that I should have an answer, rather than not know.

As you can see, it can be quite complex and is work in progress. How does it work for you?

Why does it matter in workplace relationships?

My sense is that understanding the interaction of our natural preferences towards help is of high importance in our workplace relationships. In my work as a coach, I seek to understand what help is given and received in relationships, looking at:

  1. What flows each way? Who is giving, who is receiving? A good example of this is always to look at feedback. Is it only given one way?

  2. What is expected of the help given? What outcomes are attached to help?

  3. What's the focus of help? Is it towards the knowledge and skills of how to do the job better or the capacity and presence of being in the job?

  4. When or what is not helped?

  5. What is received well?

If you want to explore this theme within your workplace relationships, either indiviidually or as a pair or in your team, please get in touch for an exploratory conversation..... I'll be happy to help!

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