I was talking with a friend a while ago, and she was describing a camping trip she and her husband had been on. It was obvious how much that had recharged her batteries – joy and energy exuded from her. Now that would be something I would endure rather than delight in, especially if the weather was cold!
It reminded me that we’re all different, and yet we are prone to suggest solutions to others that would work for us. For example, I always think going in the garden to do something is a great positive mood-changer, because it is for me. But for others, it may just be another chore to be done, and have the opposite effect.
I know I often say: ‘What you need is…’, but I hope that most of the time that is followed by either a vague generalisation – ‘a pick-me-up’ or ‘a distraction’ – or if specific, is something that I already know works for that person, rather than for me.
If we really want to help someone to feel better, or solve a problem they have, the most useful thing we can do is to ask them the right questions, to help them to find their own answers.
- What would help you to feel better/solve this/cope with this?
- When have you dealt with something like this in the past, and what did you do then?
If they don’t come up with something, we can make suggestions, but we need a repertoire of possible solutions, garnering ideas from all the different ways in which we see people sort things out. And we need to make it clear that we’re not invested in giving them ‘the answer’, only in helping them to find it.
And don’t forget, if someone does try to solve your problems for you, don’t get cross – they’re trying to help. Use their suggestions as a springboard to find your own best answer.
Now, I suggest you go and spend some time in the garden!!!