But recently I figured out that the problem was not my message but the delivery. I learned that the fastest way to help someone involves two components
- Learn to speak their language—This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to learn Italian or Cantonese. Learn how they like to be spoken to. Do they: respond well to analogies, dislike politics, get turned on by spirituality, have a laid back quality about them, etc. If you don’t know how to speak their language because they’re a stranger, then look and listen for clues. What are they asking for? What do they like to talk about? Ask questions.
- Give them the space to figure out the problem on their own—As a species, we like to solve and fix problems. At times, we even like to jump in and try to solve other people’s problems—sometimes unsolicitedly so. Because no two brains are the same, people work out problems differently—even if the end result is the same. As a child you were given Lincoln Logs or Legos and you didn’t want your parent to put together the pieces for you, you wanted to do it yourself. You may have been slower than your parent but you eventually completed the task. Moving away from that analogy, the best way to give another person space to figure out their own problem is by asking deep questions and not judging their response—simple questions like: “Why?” “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” “What’s the best thing that could happen?” “How?” “And then what?
I sat with my friend a few weeks ago and we walked through the things that he’s struggling with. I learned to speak his language, gave him the space to think things through on his own, and passed no judgement on his answers. He’s now taking steps to get help to make a better life for himself.
The best way to help is to encourage someone’s intelligence and to not insult it. On one hand, it’s great to seek and accept help. On the other hand, we all have the tools inside of us to help ourselves become the best person we can be.
My 30 character, 1 man show The Gospel According to Josh is back in NYC… May 16-18 Off-Broadway. It's a benefit and proceeds are going to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Tickets are here: https://squareup.com/market/gospeljosh/the-gospel-according-to-josh-1
More info at: www.gospeljosh.com