What If the Complaint Is Actually a Call for Help

I received a couple of excellent comments when I wrote that people who are sharing their problems don’t need advice but support. One of the questions was particularly important: If a person is feeling ashamed to ask for help and simply complains in the hope that someone will offer help, what then? That is a good question because these characters do exist.

The situation can also be the following

Some people simply don’t realize that they need help. They go on hitting their heads against the wall time after time and aren’t either willing to admit or capable of seeing that help is needed. In these situations it’s unbearable to stand there biting the bullet and giving your support when it is obvious, that the other is just circling around and getting nowhere.

In addition, there are times when I just happen to have such information that could possibly even solve the other person’s problem for good. So even if I weren’t 100 percent sure whether my friend was complaining to get advice or not, it would make no sense not to share what I have to give.

So what then?

After some time of listening and sympathizing and asking more questions on the subject there is a magical trick one can perform. Ask if the other would like to accept a piece of advice or not.

  • Would you like to hear what I think?
  • Would you like to hear how I would solve that problem?
  • Would you be interested in knowing how that appears to me?
  • Would you allow me to tell you about one option?
  • Would it do you any good if I told you my point of view?

This is how you get the permission to share advice. It is of course a possibility that one agrees to your proposition only out of courtesy, but this is still a good way to avoid throwing your help suddenly and unwantedly in the complainer’s face.

It is only after the feeling that the solutions arrive

We are usually quite willing to hear what the other person has to say about our problems, as long as we get to be heard and seen first. Many times, after the need for being heard is satisfied, we are ready to contemplate the solutions. Once the feelings are dealt with and the mind is at peace, can the focus go back to the issue at hand.

This, too, can be confirmed by my own experiences both as a giver and a receiver of advice. This is a classical illusion of control. When I get to decide that I will accept help, I’m much more willing to do so.

How about you? Leave a comment!

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