The Helping Business

You and I are often, sometimes more often than others, asked this question.

“What do you do?”

It’s a great question to be asked for more reasons than one.

But what’s the best answer?

“I’m an accountant” – or

“I help people, I help people look after their money” (pause) “How about you?”

“I’m a police officer” – or

“I help people, I help people stay safe and secure” (pause) “How about you?”

“I work for Tesco” (other supermarkets are available) – or

“I help people, I help people find what they’re looking for when they’re shopping” (pause) “How about you?”

“I’m a coach” – or

“I help people, I help people achieve their ambitions” (pause) “How about you?”

You see, one of the reasons people ask what your or I do is that they feel the need to ‘label’ us and put us in their frame of reference – which might not be where you or I exactly want to be.

When people ask that question they’ve probably not thought that, in fact, we might be able to help them in some way.

It’s an strange thing, but most people often offer to help others but rarely ask for help themselves.

And then, if you or I mention the company we work for (if that’s what we do), then we’ll get one of just a few responses:

“Oh I use them, they’re really good” at one end of the scale or “Oh no, they’re dreadful, I had a lot of trouble with them etc. etc. etc.”

(And after they’ve unloaded their ‘problem’ they aren’t interested in you anymore.)

And if they don’t have an opinion or have never heard of your employer they’ll look a bit blank and mentally write it on the ‘label’ they’re about to attach to you.

The thing is, that when you or I answer the ‘question’ about what we do we don’t mention the role or the ‘brand’ but we ‘turn the answer around’ to focus on what we might be able to do for them.

Then there’s the pause.

That allows our questioner to come back and show interest by asking “tell me more” or “how do you do that” or words to that effect.

(This doesn’t always happen of course, people often launch straight in to telling you and I about them, they’re not interested in us anyway!)

But before we answer that question, you and I need to know more – so that we can put our answer into context.

So we ask “how about you?”

What happens next can go one of two ways.

Either they take the opportunity to ‘product vomit’ all over us telling us all about all the things they do and how successful they are, often ending up with a straightforward and usually quite unimaginative sales pitch for some ‘fantastic’ product or service.

(You know the ones I mean!)

Or, on the other hand, they may be clever enough to reflect our ‘helping’ response and explain how they can help people.

And unlike the fifty shades of plonker who don’t think of doing that, these are the people we can have a productive and intelligent conversation with, and maybe even end up doing business with.

You see, whenever I talk to people about why they do what they do, or why they have the business they have, the answer invariably includes some reference to wanting to help people.

And really that’s what successful business is all about, even as an employee rather than a business owner.

(I should add that as a rule, I don’t talk to plonkers (DTTP)  – those in Peter Thomson’s 100+ Club will know this as DDWT – and if you want to know what that means you’ll need to join the club!)

You and I are all in business one way or another to help people. We’re all part of the ‘helping industry’.

It stands to reason really, if we weren’t helping people they wouldn’t do business with us, they wouldn’t buy our products or services.

Odd that, isn’t it? People are quite happy to buy help, but reluctant to ask for it.

So what am I doing here?

I hope I’m helping you to think – in a way and about things you might not have previously considered.

‘Carry on Helping’