Only trying to help

“If there’s anything I can do to help…” How many times have you heard yourself say those words?  And how many times has the person you offered to help actually taken up your offer?

Asking for help is something that many people find difficult.  Accepting help when it’s offered also seems to be hard and I found myself wondering why that might be.

First of all, it strikes me that the word ‘help’ can be used in two different ways:

When one of my clients is struggling with the preparation of an important presentation, I might offer to help craft the language.  In this case I’m offering my specialist knowledge and experience, and that help is coming from a position of greater expertise than the person I’m helping.

Alternatively, when my mother is busy making lunch for the whole family, I might offer to help tidy the kitchen and load the dish-washer.  In this case I’m offering unskilled assistance and that help is coming from a position of lesser expertise than the person I’m helping.

I think this distinction is important.

When you offer to help, ask yourself: Is the help you’re offering plugging a gap in the person’s skills or simply adding an extra pair of hands?  Because it seems to me that if the person you want to help feels that you’re offering extra expertise, they may feel undermined.  They may think that you don’t rate their skills or that you don’t trust them to succeed.

However, if they perceive that you’re simply offering to take some of the unskilled work off their hands, they may feel more comfortable accepting your offer.

Wouldn’t it be helpful (!) if we had two different words for these two different kinds of help?  Do you know of any other language where this distinction is made?

Saying ‘Sorry’ – who, why, how, what and when?

[Written by Neil Harris, Associate Partner at Brilliant Minds]  Recently there was lots of media attention on whether or not Lord Rennard should, or indeed needs to, apologise. It got me thinking about saying sorry.

First of all let me apologise in advance to anyone for whom I have incorrectly presupposed prior knowledge of NLP. That said….

NLP has spent a lot of its existence identifying the structure of all manner of skills. When it comes to saying sorry, as with all areas of human endeavour; there are people who are good at it, others who are not and the full range of shades in between.

Now I am not about to provide a definitive description of how to say sorry exquisitely, but there are NLP factors that I believe are key. Two elements in particular have been going through my mind.

The first is neuro-logical levels. Robert Dilts, who invented them was one of the trainers on my Advanced Diploma in NLP back in 1988 (this was the pre-cursor to what has now become called Master Practitioner in the UK). As part of introducing what he had created, he gave examples of how congruity includes an alignment of those levels and/or a lack of conflict between them.

So, if you are considering whether or not to say sorry about something, you might first answer the following questions. Where, when and to whom might it be a good idea to apologise? What is it that I am apologising for? How would the apology best be given? Why is it important or necessary to apologise? Who exactly is it that is apologising? In deciding your answer to those questions, how can you formulate it so as to be congruent and unambiguous in your expressing it?

The second element is related to Roger Bailey’s creation, made more widely known and available by Shelle Rose Charvet, called LAB Profiling. LAB Profile includes a distinction about being motivated by either internally determined factors/considerations or external ones. So someone who is internally referenced will need to determine their own personal reasons for apologising, whereas someone who is externally referenced will apologise because ‘out there’ requires it.

When I was a coach on one of Shelle’s LAB Profile trainers’ trainings in Canada a few years ago, we identified a set of behaviours associated with being both internally and externally referenced at the same time, but at different levels.

What happens when someone is internally referenced at a behaviour level (ie only I will/can be the judge of whether to apologise and if so what is the right way to do it) and, at the same time, externally referenced at an identity level (ie regardless of whether or not I apologise and how I do it, I need others to tell me that I am OK as a person in order to feel good about myself)? Well there are lots of things that can be done, but then that’s another story.

Sorry if you were expecting something more definitive!