Even though you think your intentions are always noble and you would do anything in your power in order to help the ones in need, you should know about the worst things people do when trying to help, so you won’t send the wrong message or give people the wrong impression. Sometimes less is more and that goes for helping others as well. Try to avoid the worst things people do when trying to help, by paying attention to all those little traps you might encounter along the way, traps you might fall into if you are not careful enough. Here is what you shouldn’t do if you are trying to help others without expecting anything in return:
1. Don’t Make It All about You
One of the worst things people do when trying to help others is precisely the fact that they make it all about themselves. If someone deals with a problem, don’t minimize the importance of their obstacle just because you think you have faced greater challenges in your life. It’s not about you, it’s their problem and if you are really trying to help, just be by their side and tell them they’ll be okay. Don’t patronize them and acknowledge their feelings!
2. Listen Carefully to What They Are Telling You
Another big mistake most people do when trying to help is the fact that they are not really listening to what the other person is saying and they tend to overlook some important details in their friend’s story. Just pay attention to what you are told and be empathetic! Be a better listener because most people just want or need to feel understood and accepted for who they are, even if they made some terrible mistakes along the way.
3. Don’t Force Them to Receive Your Help
If someone tells you they don’t need your help, most times they are probably telling the truth. Don’t force them to receive your help because they are not telling you this out of pride. Give them a chance to resolve their own problems by themselves. Have a little faith in their abilities and show them how confident you are that they will succeed in achieving their dreams. Sometimes, boosting their self-confidence is the best way you could possibly help them.
4. Don’t Give Them Meaningless Advice Just to Say Something
Sometimes, if you have nothing to say, it’s best to just shut up. Don’t make things worse by giving your friends meaningless advice just to say something! If you don’t have anything wise to say that could really help them with the difficulties they are facing, then just be by their side and don’t give them wrong advice. Admit you don’t know how to solve their problems and advise them to ask for professional help.
5. Know when It’s Time to Back off
Sometimes it’s best to just back off, especially when despite of all your efforts to help a person, their problems have become your own. You’re not doing them any good by being involved in something that clearly isn’t your business. I love this piece of romantic relationship advice from Dr. Phil that can very well apply to any type of relationship: "Ask yourself, 'What is it costing me to be in this relationship?' If the answer is your dreams, identity, or dignity, the cost is too high." Your help might very well be the thing that sustains their problem and sometimes too much is simply too much.
6. Don’t Declare Their Problem Solved, then Simply Walk Away
There are some problems people have to face their entire lives. Just because a person has started laughing again, that doesn’t mean their depression is cured. They might have won a battle but the war still goes on and you have to be there by their side. Be there for your loved ones and listen to them every time they need a shoulder to cry on. Don’t just declare their problem solved and simply walk away! Being a true friend won’t even require so much effort on your behalf. Just call once in a while, write an e-mail or you could even go out sometimes to see a movie or simply to talk and catch up.
7. Don’t Give Them the Wrong Kind of Help
When someone asks for your help and, for different reasons, you can’t do a thing to really help them, don’t be ashamed to admit it. Don’t give them the wrong kind of help just to have an excuse that you tried to do something. If you know your actions won’t make any difference, then you should advise them to go see someone who can have some real answers to their problems. Don’t waste their time, energy or even money by being too afraid to admit that you haven’t got a clue about what you should do in order to help them.
Even if you have the best intentions to help the people around you, sometimes you can do more harm than good if you are not paying enough attention to all the details of the problem your friend is facing. Can you think of other bad things people do when trying to help others? Do tell!