Self-awareness in helping other people

Piggybacking on last week’s post about knowing your strengths—if you don’t know what skills you have that other people don’t, you typically can’t help them or teach them very well.

For example:

I’m not good at starting conversations with people I don’t know without context. Not one of my strengths. 

In a variety of contexts in my adult life, I’ve been given the advice to “go meet people.” That’s not useful advice.

Can I reach out to someone who I don’t have a solid relationship with? Yes. (Usually.) Can I maintain a conversation once it’s going? Yes-ish. I do need the other person to have skin in the game as well. But “make connections with new people three or four days a week”—advice I was recently given—is entirely useless. How would I even begin to do that? And will there be enough me-time to recover from that on a regular basis?

Whenever I’m considering an online course or a coach of any kind, I need to know if this is a skill that comes easily to them and if they’ve come up with a plan for how to help those of us who don’t have this skill.

Most of the time, we’re blown off as “not willing to do the work,” when in reality, we simply don’t know how.

We see this often with kids, and more often with gifted kids. Just because you’ve assigned a task doesn’t mean they know what the steps are to completing it, regardless how smart they are or what other tasks they’ve completed.

“Common sense” is another space where we expect people to know things that we know. I had a teacher in junior high who told is that common sense isn’t common until it’s learned.

This makes a lot of sense once you zoom out. Ways that “you just know” to act or not act in the suburbs are different than on a farm or in the city are different than in another culture similar to ours are different than in another culture different from ours.

This is a piece of how we can easily pick out people who “aren’t from around here.”

I know too many meek people who are uncomfortable and/or insecure about owning their strengths. Many of them love to be helpful. If that description resonates with you, maybe this piece will give you a bit of fuel. You’ll be a much better helper if you know what you’re good at. No, “everyone” isn’t good at it, even if you’re not the only one.

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