Are you a pleaser? Do you just want people to be happy?
I am most certainly one of these people. It comes in pretty handy as I work in the Technology Services department at my place of employment. I just want to make things work for people so they can happily go about doing their jobs. I want to solve their technological problems, be the one to apply the balm on their tech troubles, be the savior of their system failures.
I’m going to be honest here… with this compulsion to leave people smiling and dancing in whatever proverbial aisle they happen to be seated on, I occasionally forget to ask for what I need from them. This is particular to these situations when I’m providing a helpful service to someone. I really have to remind myself of this at times. I believe I’m supposed to rush headlong into the technological fire and simply put it out while the end users stand outside aglow in the light of the blaze and applauding as I come out of the burning building carrying their most precious files in my arms. “You saved my PowerPoint I created for my lesson plan six years ago! I don’t know how I could ever thank you enough!”
It doesn’t always work that way. I’ve been watching too many movies if I think it does. The reality is as any firefighter will tell you… people panic. They will stand frozen in a doorway with no amount of a life-threatening inferno being able to thaw them while you need to get them out of the way so you can go in and do what you gotta do. In my case someone may click their mouse button fourteen times hoping the frozen screen will respond to that nth magical click, like how the elevator finally arrives if you press the button the prerequisite number of times.
This is a call to all those innate nurses and caregivers and service providers and baby cradlers. We so want to just help that we forget to ask for what we want, to tell what we need. We are so concerned with our needs being secondary, tertiary, or even superfluous that we dismiss them at the time of service. We get caught up in fixing someone else’s problem that we empathically absorb their panic and compartmentalize and compress it down into the vault of our subconscious, only to have it resurface at the least convenient and most inappropriate time.
I guarantee whenever we are helping someone out, we have an immediate need. We need to communicate that need to those we are helping. We need to learn how to state what we want to those we are helping so we can provide them the assistance they need. Most often we can make greater headway by not merely accepting their emotions in a panic situation, but by instead having them decompress through asking them to follow whatever steps we are laying out for them. This applies well beyond fires and drowning, this applies to spouses in a state, to teens, tweens and preteens that go into an emotional state akin to a flailing water hose on full blast, or to a panicked pet owner who can’t find their loved companion animal. In every situation, those in need have to help us help them, and it is our job as service providers to communicate our needs to them so we can give them the assistance they need.