Often we’re warned that if we’re too generous with our time and talents at work, we’ll get taken advantage of. Well, maybe, but it’s worth the risk.
Most of us lend a hand because we:
- Can’t help ourselves; it’s how we’re wired, raised, or compelled
- Can put our knowledge and skills to good use
- Care about the person or group in need
- Enjoy collaborating, teamwork, and a new challenge
Our initial desire to help doesn’t usually consider the downside. We step up because it feels good.
The double-edged sword
Helping goes two ways: we give it one day and need it the next. We may go for long periods without needing help, but we’re pretty sure our time will come.
I’m as guilty as the next for resisting offers of help for reasons like:
- I don’t want to be a bother
- My need isn’t that important
- I think I can take care of it myself (when I really can’t)
- I’ll wait for something “really big” down the road
So I refrain from asking when I should, even when others are offering help.
At the same time, I’m eager to help someone else. I love nothing more than frantic phone calls from friends and clients who have some new craziness at work to figure out. This gives me a chance to provide help as a gift, my act of gratitude for their confidence and friendship.
Counted on or counted out
To help and be helped bind us. At work we need each other to:
- Get the work done
- Avoid being blindsided
- Build our knowledge and skills
- Create and innovate
We need coworkers we can count on and they need us too.
The other day I was thinking about the “helpers-in-waiting” in my life. These are the professionals I can call anytime with a question or a problem–special people who know who I am and care sincerely about helping me like my attorney, my accountant, my computer specialist, my personal physician, and my large and small animal veterinarians.
These aren’t people I talk to every day or month or year, but when I need them, I really do and pronto. They don’t have to drop everything when I call, but most of the time they do. That raises my gratitude level and they know it.
A help-seeker’s gratitude expands when the help giver:
- Acknowledges the need and responds quickly
- Does a thorough job done and gives sound advice
- Is fair and trustworthy
- Communicates information and answers questions clearly
- Takes a warm, pleasant approach and even shows a sense of humor
The help-giver’s gratitude comes from the help seeker’s:
- Expressions of appreciation and thankfulness
- Respect for their time, effort, and understanding
- Pleasantness, sense of humor, and flexibility
- Reciprocated care and concern for them as people
In a business environment, no one is obligated to provide selfless help just because someone is paying for services. I know plenty of highly paid individuals who don’t provide help that generates gratitude. In too many cases, their help creates resentment.
Be kind, be helpful
In my view, the good guys and gals finish first. They attract a community of like-minded people who help because they want to, promoting a spirit of gratitude that is contagious.
Each day we need to reach out to others while expressing thanks to those helping us, in even the smallest ways. Recognize helpfulness in an email, a voice mail, a word in passing, a greeting card, an invitation to lunch, a “how are you doing” inquiry, or an offer of support. Gratitude costs nothing and makes a big difference.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and other post posts here. Believe me, I am enormously grateful for your interest, your comments, and your support.
Photo from smiles 7 via Flickr