What happens when someone asks for our help?……………..

First wrote about kindness in the workplace, last October  and have been prompted to write again as I have observed that increasingly people are sharing their vulnerability or simply just asking for help, on the LinkedIn platform.

Have been fascinated by the reactions and responses to these posts, which in general have ranged from the encouraging, ‘keep at it. Don’t give up’; through to signposting to helpful information, right through to offers of practical help.

All of which, from what I can see has been gratefully received, but it has made me reflect on how we might respond when faced with a direct request for help.

What options are available to us and how do we decide how involved to become?


Seems to me there are at least three options available to us:

Offering advice: 

We might choose to offer advice and guidance, fully expecting that the person is then able to go off and follow it. Perhaps also hoping that, by in large that will be the end of our involvement. We’ve supplied the ‘necessary’ information and that should be enough.

It might be our way of dispensing wisdom and then walking away – with no further involvement.

Offering help: 

We might in some circumstances choose to jump in and ‘do’, from our perspective the person needs immediate help and support. They wouldn’t have asked otherwise and we might have just what they need. We may even want to rescue them and perhaps become the ‘hero’ of the hour.

Mixing the two:

Or indeed we might choose a combination of the two, perhaps in our assessment of the individual and the situation they are facing we have identified the ‘parts’ that we can advise and guide on, and those where we might have to become a bit more involved.

Ignore completely:

Almost forgot this option, ironic really and you’ll see why at the end of the post. We may for a whole host of reasons, simply choose to ignore and move on.

Clearly every situation is different, our reactions and responses will depend on who is asking, how they are asking and the very nature of the problem they are seeking help with. And that’s without even factoring in, you and how you might be feeling.

I wonder if at times we rush in to help or offer advice, seeing the problem but not necessarily fully seeing the person in front of us.

So now I am considering is it kinder to consider the request from this perspective? Is it kinder to look more closely and listen more carefully to the person asking for help and really weigh what they might need?

Is it kinder to take a bit of time to assess when to step in and provide help and when to offer guidance or indeed when to offer a combination of both?

Kindness comes in many guises, sometimes it’s kinder to offer advice and keep some distance and sometimes it’s certainly kinder to ‘ roll up your sleeves and get ‘stuck in ‘.

The other thing I would say about kindness, is that it needs to be real, if you genuinely for whatever reason cannot offer it at that moment in time, then be honest and offer what you can. Life has taught me that in general people can only offer what they have.

How often in your life and career have you wanted/needed help and instead received advice?

Advice can be great, extremely useful and timely but there are times when what people need is help, hands on, involved, side by side help.

On the other hand……

How often have you been seeking, guidance advice only to have someone jump in and start doing for you?

Perhaps there is a fine line between taking over and ‘walking with someone’ until they are steadier.

Have you always been fully present and willing to help when required?

And here I do have to come clean, haven’t always done this, can think of one work situation where I just did not heed the request for help.  It’s still with me to this day, despite the years and a situation I will not allow to happen again.

So, there you have it, until next time

Janice Taylor


About careerresilience

Career Coach and Writer at Blue Sky Career Consulting. I love to write and am currently juggling three different blogs. On a mission to discover how people can thrive and flourish in life and work.
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