Did you really mean it, when you told someone in distress or going through a tough time “Call me if you need any help”?
I’m sure as well-meaning those offers of help were, deep down in your heart you knew that the person would most likely not call for help. Asking for and accepting help can be difficult for many and you know that as well. Therefore whenever I hear such an offer, I wonder whether the person really means it.
I myself wondered at times when I made such offers, though it was intended to provide immediate comfort to the person I worried about the ‘what if’.
“What if?” the person really called asking for help. Do I have the time or the bandwidth to help? Did I jump the gun and offer for help without realizing that it was possible that the person would really call? There were also times when people did call back asking for help and I was not in a position to help them. I did feel like an idiot. Why did I in the first place make an offer which I couldn’t follow through?
At times we are also not sure whether it is appropriate to offer help to people. What if the person concerned is not looking for our help? Maybe I’ll offend the person by presuming that the person needs help?
This happens in organizations as well. Managers tell team members that they can call them any time they need help and when they do get such a call for help, they start to give excuses about lack of time etc. This really impacts the credibility.
I’ve had several instances when I took the offer of help by someone seriously and when I called them, they started to avoid or give excuses. I felt like an idiot having believed this person; and at times insulted or hurt.
I realized that often times the offer “call me if you need anything” doesn’t work for either side. It’s best as the famous Nike line goes “Just do it”
I remembered one such offer my friend made, which I think was fantastic and really touched me. This was when I was down with severe sciatic pain and was immobilized for almost a week. He called me and said “Hey I am at the nearby store running some errands, do you want me to pick up something and drop it for you on the way?”
It made me feel very comfortable. As a seeker I didn’t feel that I would be bothering my friend much as he was already at the store. The fact that he would drop by on the way back home was also comforting as I didn’t have to upset his schedule.
I got another one during this period. It went like this “Hey, I am bringing Friday dinner, what would you like to have, some noodles or lasagna?”
We don’t have to sound hollow in our offer for help. If you truly wish to help, just do it!
What kind of specific offers of help stood out for you as a person?