I always thought helping people was the right thing to do. So it was a total shocker when my mom (aka the kindest person in the world) taught me to never give advice or help to anyone unless they explicitly ask you for it. Huh, wait, what? I didn’t really take her advice. I like helping people as an act of kindness. Actually, it made me feel good too. Helping others can be addictive, in some sort of strange way.
Years later, I started to realize she was right. I know it sounds strange at first. But think before you help. Helping is something beautiful, but it’s a weakness too, in many ways. We’re helping you out (ha!) by pointing out 4 situations that illustrate why you (sometimes) should stop helping people.
1. Listen, don’t help
The most ignorant people on earth? People who don’t listen. When a friend shares a personal story, make sure you listen. Don’t come up with well-intended solutions to fix the problem or unsolicited advice straight away. You can’t fix people. I know it’s hard, and yes, you sincerely want to help. But listening, in this case, is far more important. Listening is at the very heart of communication, but largely ignored by teaching others. When someone needs your help, they’ll ask.
2. Give everything, or give nothing
Helping someone out when you don’t have the time, skills or commitment does more harm than good. Can you really help that person out?
Remember the days when people invited you over for coffee and started asking you what your ideas were on their new plans? And when you left, you totally had the feeling that they were picking your brain? I sincerely hope these days are over now. Knowledge is not for free. So stop helping people who do so and say no to pick your brain meeting requests. Or, as Warren Buffett puts it: ‘the difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.’
4. Only help people who really want help (and appreciate it)
Ever realize some people don’t want your help? Some people don’t want you to help solve their problems. How easy your solution might be. The only person who can help them is themselves. So, save your energy instead of wasting it and think before you help and save time on drama (and make more time for yourself). Your help is valuable, but it’s not for everyone.