How Can I Help You?

Picture this- you walk up to the counter at your favorite coffee shop. It is your turn to order, and you expect the barista to magically read your mind and present you with the divine cup of coffee you were imagining. It sounds pretty ridiculous, right?

I’ve found that there are certain bits of advice that seem to stick with me. Usually it’s a only a few words, but they somehow stay with me far beyond the end of the conversation. My real job is being a first grade teacher. A few years ago, I found myself in conversation with a fellow first-grade teacher. I can’t remember what we were talking about exactly, but I do remember her advice to me. “Whenever I can tell someone is upset, I just say, ‘How can I help you?'”

Isn’t that a genius idea?

I often find myself  moving so quickly and wanting to fix everything at lightning speed. I just do things first, then ask if it was helpful after. Seems a bit backwards and ineffective, right? Case-in-point, when Ben moved last month. I spent a few hours emptying and organizing closets. I emptied out two full closets and declared, “This is the perfect spot for your clothes!” I was a little disappointed when he wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement. I never asked if that would be helpful. Come to find out, he would rather keep most of his clothes folded in a dresser.

There have been so many times over the past year where I’ve noticed a friend or loved one in distress. (Most times, it was nothing earth-shattering or major) I’ve made a conscious effort to step back and ask, “How can I help you?” instead of just ‘doing’.

Think about it, the next time you find yourself in a difficult situation. Ask the person, “How can I help you?” or envision your response if they asked you the same. Maybe it will make things better.

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Photo by @JuliaDags

P.S. This is a picture of me and my friend, Jenna! She came on this shoot to help make me laugh. (Yes, I’m serious!)