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How to Help

Helping Practice

Helping is a skill that improves over time

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Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash
Here’s a thought about practice.

Who do you know that is especially good at helping others? I mean the person who seems to always know the right thing to say or do. Their timing is always uncanny and they have an special knack for seeing what’s really going on. Right now I’m thinking of a neighbor who fits this description.

I’ve become convinced that these expert helpers only get there one way: by practice. A desire and intention to help are part of it, for sure, but these experts also learn by experience. They’ve learned the kind of help that makes a difference. Practice enhances any skill, so of course that would be true for helping, too.

How can you become a better helper through practice? Maybe it’s by focusing on a kind of help that fits your gifts, like listening or creative problem-solving. You might practice noticing more to see how others around you could use a helping hand. You could learn more about a particular challenge that people face, like shyness or anxiety.

There’s also a comfort that comes with thinking of becoming a better helper through practice. It means we can all improve, no matter how useless we feel right now. Our failure to effectively help those we love doesn’t mean we’re failures; it just means we need more practice.

It’s become clear to me that help is a skill that improves with practice and time.

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Who is your ethical hero?

One of mine is my co-author, Bill O’Rourke. He had a long and fruitful career at one of the largest aluminum manufacturers in the world, filling multiple executive roles like VP of environment, health and safety, head of procurement, CIO, and President of Alcoa Russia. Through all of it, he personally encountered just about every ethical dilemma you could imagine and consistently made the right choice.

In this week’s episode of the How to Help Podcast, Bill is going to coach us through one of the most common dilemmas that people face: you see something wrong and feel like you should intervene, but doing so is risky. Listen and learn from someone who is a fountain of good advice.

How to Help Podcast • Episode 8 • Intervention

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