If it’s not up to you, before helping wait for someone to ask explicitly.



Sometimes we feel the need to solve problems, it’s our nature and helping people feels good. But there are situations where keeping your position and being into your role matters most. I personally made this mistake at work a few weeks ago and I’m proud of doing the wrong thing, otherwise I wouldn’t have learned this lesson.

How you can make the mistake

I think getting wrong in this case is really easy because helping is considered valuable by many, so it seems the natural thing to do. However it’s not true in every context.
Also, it may happens that the problem is conditioning you or your job, so you feel strongly motivated to help because you think you’ll get rid of the problem sooner, enforced by the fact that you may also have a possible solution. Seems clear, that’s what I thought too.
And another possible source of the mistake: sometimes people don’t have enough courage to ask for help, sometimes discovering is up to you. If you feel this possibility, probably it’s better if you gently ask before doing anything.

What may happens if you don’t follow the rule

  • If you make a mistake while helping, it becomes a bigger problem.
  • You put yourself in an offensive situation with the people you helped. At the end, nobody asked for your help.
  • You show lack of fair play and honesty, because you get out of your role.

What happens if you follow the rule

  • Your mind is free from others problems.
  • At the end someone may ask for help, in that case you are owner of your destiny and the jackpot is really close:
    • You can draw back, leaving others to solve the problem. After all it wasn’t your problem.
    • You can help, but before it’s mandatory for you to write down and get signed that you may not be able to solve the problem and you may do the wrong thing and get everything worst.
      This way you clear yourself from any responsibility. Then if you are good enough to solve the problem, you’ll show awesomeness and get the jackpot!

What you can do with caution

  • Suggest a possibile solution without acting, imperatively adding something like “I may be wrong, I am not sure”.
  • If the problem is damaging you, it’s possible to make pressure to speed up. Keep in mind that if you have a contract that depends on others work, it’s suggested to have a clause in order to rescind without penalties if this situation happens.

About Dario Ghilardi

Dario Ghilardi
Passionate software engineering consultant, aspiring trail runner, traveler. Insanely affected by lifelong learning.

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