Being Helpful: Three Decision-making Frames That Impact Credibility


credit Microsoft OfficeA line of credit no bank can offer…

Every time we help someone in need, it should be a chance to build credibility. Helping is a growth opportunity for both parties.

I last wrote about when helping isn’t helpful and how the best efforts put forward to help others won’t work if those efforts are based on the perceptions of the helper. The quote above is from that post. In this post, let’s talk about three frames or mindsets that will help our hinder our credibility in serving others.

Personal credibility is the currency of trust, and genuine trust is crucial to effective helping.

Here are the frames:

  • Prudence- “Count the cost” way of making decisions that takes into account personal limitations and external barriers that could sabotage your efforts to help. Maintaining credibility means avoiding decisions based on good intentions with low ability to actually help. With a prudence mindset, you can heed the axiom of “under promise, over deliver.” People love to get more than they bargained for out of a helping relationship. Prudence also helps us helpers maintain boundaries that do not get us into ethical issues and make promises we cannot keep.
  • Pride- Pride can cause one to over-inflate or undercut his ability to follow through, which is usually due to an individual’s perception of his abilities (competence). The worst kind of pride is the kind that causes a person to think that they can “get away” with underperforming or neglecting duty (“better to seek forgiveness than permission”) which is an overvaluation of others’ good will. It will run out. Confidence erodes quickly. Pride is the voice that says, “He/She should just be glad I’m here to help out.” And that line of thinking is poison to any efforts at helping.
  • Pie-in-the-sky- This view takes the road that is paved with good intentions all the time. It is the “If you build it, they will come” approach. There is a huge risk of underestimating the effort and the costs of helping with this frame. “If I just try hard enough, belief long enough, it will happen,” in spite of what is missing for success. People in need, need a solid plan, not pie in the sky. We owe it to people to be realistic and to model realism for them at times when they are grasping for hope. Empty hope is worse than offering no hope at all.

Whether you’re a parent, professional, friend or simple good samaritan, working to build your credibility with those you strive to help is is a crucial process that will make or break your efforts.

So where do you find yourself falling within the three frames? What is the one thing you can do to build up your credibility with the people you routinely try to help?

Copyright (c) 2013 Glen Gaugh

image credit Microsoft Office

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