Don’t ask for help if all you want is a listener

I’ve learnt that most of the time, when someone asks me what to do, they don’t actually want to be given answers and to-do lists. I’ve spent many an hour coming up with detailed plans, ideas, research ideas only to find that a month later nothing’s happened.

So I have spent some time wondering why …

I have worked out that if you are serious about making things happen, you will have done whatever it takes and just need some help analysing the results. Too often, people ask for help because they want to create the illusion of doing something or they just want someone who will listen to them.

So, I no longer give solutions. I simply ask “what are you going to do about it”, or more often, “what have you done about it”. And it works, people have to be honest about what they are doing with that problem – are they ignoring it by talking about it, or are they serious about fixing it. In which case, they are the person best placed to fix it.

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