The Worst Question You Can Ask Someone Who Needs Help

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Asking for help when one needs help is a pain in the ass sometimes.

We get stuck in our heads thinking no one cares about our plight. Or perhaps asking for help isn’t really our thing.

It’s awkward, it’s weird, it makes us feel inferior and that we owe the people who decide to help us out. All around we feel bad about it despite this being a genuine reprieve and huge relief.

But probably one of the bigger reasons we don’t always ask for help, even when we need it, is because of people asking the worst question they could ask…

“Why don’t you just…”

Often posed by someone who barely understands the situation, they insert themselves into your life by asking this particular question. It could be framed in other ways like “Why not…” or “How come…” but it’s effect on ourselves is all just the same.

It’s a question followed by the person’s view of what you should be doing next. It’s easy to utter those words and frame it as concerned or trying to be helpful, but it’s more frustrating than not.

Here is why.

It’s A Lazy Response

To begin, the question is steeped in laziness and ignorance from the other person. Laziness in the sense that the advice that comes afterwards is typically something someone already knows and doesn’t need to be reminded of.

Yes, we know generally if we’re to lose weight, one must lower caloric count and move around more.

Yes, we know looking for work or pitching to more clients in a better way will bolster revenue.

The issue with those kinds of broad general pieces of advice is they only scratch the surface of people’s actual problems. They make us feel good and hopeful in certain cases that the solution is so simple.

But achieving it is a whole other matter which the advice giver is ignorant to.

This is a phenomenon that is all too common in the self-help industry where people can come in and offer such boilerplate advice without figuring out what people’s situations actually are.

I get it though. If you want to reach a broad audience, you spread some broad general advice anyone can use. That’s the hook to more specific tailored advice for coaching services.

But what’s stopping those gurus from giving us some outline? Some more specifics? You know, something actually useful?

It’s laziness and it’s pathetic when someone drops those words.

It Disregards Privileges And Advantages

On top of laziness, the ignorance of someone mentioning those words is even stronger for a variety of reasons. To start, said person blatantly disregards the privileges and/or advantages that they have.

Commonly for giving advice, we often use ourselves as an example. We gurus tell our stories and from there part knowledge and valuable life lessons. It’s a good way of making our words last as people hopefully apply those words and change their lives around for the better.

The only issue with that is that gurus are humans and humans not only are flawed, but we have a tonne of biases.

One in particular makes it much easier for us to be more apathetic to the plights of others. After all, we or someone else we look up to surmounted similar challenges.

Why not the regular average person?

The problem with this logic is that we’re often withheld information to make a good solid conclusion. Either the success stories or examples we use don’t cover the full picture, or we processed our own experiences in a certain way that makes it different.

There’s nothing wrong with that, however that means we must have due diligence in place.

The issue with using success stories of rich and famous people is that it leaves out a lot of details. Jeff Bezos’ origin story presents him as a man looking to set up an online book store. He had “humble roots” in making his company grow from that to the largest company on Earth.

Nevermind the fact his own dad came into money and kickstarted the whole thing.

It’s details like this that imply that not everyone can make it big. For sure, if you have a parent or a six-figure golden parachute to work with, you could make a lot of things happen. But not everyone has that laying around.

In this economy? Please.

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It Shows You’re Not Engaging With The Problem

The more you dwell on a certain problem, the more you come to understand it and what it asks of you to solve it. Problems, while making you feel bad or negative, still communicate with us.

Problems are part of our lives and what gives us purpose is to be solving them.

Don’t want to solve that problem? Find and make different problems that give you satisfaction to solve.

The blasé response of “why don’t you just” doesn’t solve anything or engage with the problem in any way though, making the one asking more ignorant about what’s at stake and what can be done to solve the issue in the first place.

I remember in gym class in high school I made a point of standing near the opponent goal every time. To me it made sense. Our objective was to be away from most opponents and to score points.

It often frustrated me internally that my teammates weren’t kicking/throwing the ball towards me so I’d have a chance of scoring, especially when they were swarmed by other people. Did they not trust me?

Perhaps it was pride.

Regardless, I look at that scenario and understand more there are nuances. Yes, there’s trust in a teammate. But there is also other possible maneuvers or someone could get in the way.

Having me standing out there in the open could risk me fumbling and screwing up.

That scenario is much like our lives. Sure the solution to our current problems is out there on the playing field called life. However, in order for that to happen, there is a lot that has to be done and things can still get screwed up in the process.

It Doesn’t Solve The Problem

But the biggest reason of all why this question doesn’t help is because it doesn’t solve the issue. Yes, not everything is meant to be resolved with sheer words.

However blurting out what needs to be done doesn’t always help in the way we think it does.

There’s nuances. There’s our own mindset and how we process people’s words and react to them.

Even when we know the answer and what needs to be done, saying and doing are two very different things that have their own set of problems depending on the complexity of what we’re doing.

When solving a problem it helps to be direct.

Direct doesn’t have to be some generalized order. It can be more direct through products or words of advice.

This has worked well with so many gurus in the past like Tony Robbins, who have sponsors and companies at his events selling various stuff. They might not help everyone or be that useful, but it’s better than saying things and not giving people options.

It’s why in productivity articles, I recommend Sukha. Not only for the possible kickbacks, but because I genuinely enjoy it and find it’s made me more productive.

Directness doesn’t have to involve buying a thing though. Sometimes it can be more drilled down advice.

For advice on weight loss, offer up advice on food portions, healthy recipes, home exercises, and so on.

For advice on running a successful business, offer hiring processes, budgeting tricks, simple marketing tricks.

People already know generally what needs to get done, but it’s time we show people how to get it done. And honestly, people who ask that simple question drop the ball hard on that one.

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