A guide must go there before
There are lots of books with complicated recipes to influence, convince, win or be a leader. But it all boils down to this — true friendship and preparation.
I’ve seen this work so many times, so unfailingly, that I have thrown away all the recipes, methods and techniques I learnt over the years. They were consuming more time than I spent in being attentive and preparing to help.
Let’s use ‘friend’ for a client, customer, family member, partner, actual friend or anyone else we want to help. It will also keep us in the right mindset, compared to more mercenary relationships.
First, we make sure that we are genuine and have the friend’s best interest and happiness at heart, not covering up some form of self-interest and fooling ourself and the friend. Is this simple? No, for most of us either don’t have enough self-awareness, the desire for introspection or the freedom to be altruistic. But if we honestly want to know our intentions, we need to start. We give unsolicited or solicited advice so often that opportunity abounds to practice unwrapping our motives. With practice, we will know when we are serving ourselves and when someone else. However good or bad our help turns out to be, it must begin with the right intention. A win for our friend and a win for us is excellent, a win for our friend and no change for us is okay, a win for our friend and a loss for us can be rectified, but we cannot recover from an injury to our friend due to our selfishness. We’ll probably not get a chance again.
Then we do our homework. It is more straightforward but crucial. We put in the effort to hear and know the friend’s situation, think of all reasonable ways it can be improved, compare them and show which is the best. Sometimes we are prepared, but often we need to work it out diligently.
What can be more reassuring than to have someone trustworthy who does the thinking too? Wouldn’t you want such a friend? It’s as simple and comforting as sliced bread.