simple (but not easy) techniques:
- When a person brings a problem to you, early in the conversation, ask if he would like some help and if so, what kind he would prefer. This may feel strange at first to both of you. You may only appreciate the usefulness of this question later after you've finished the conversation.
- Decide if you are the appropriate person to give the kind of help requested; if not, refer him to someone better suited to provide this kind of help.
- If you tackle the problem, do your best to provide the kind of help requested. If that kind of help is new to you or difficult for you to give, be sure to let the person know.
- If you realize that you really can't help, admit it. Try saying, "I wish I had a solution for you. I don't-but I certainly understand the problem."
- Monitor the way you are giving help. Are you giving the kind of help requested or slipping into your favorite way of helping? Check it out with the other person. Ask if what you are doing is helping.
- Practice these steps, modifying them until you feel comfortable, it fits your style, and you hear from the receiver that you have been helpful.
If you suffer from Helpitis, please be gentle with yourself. You are not alone; there are many of us. Appreciate your good intentions and recognize that it is possible for all of us to improve how and when we give help. Your help is a wonderful gift, especially when given with care, respect, and consideration for the receiver.