So you want to help someone out? You seem like our kind of person! But, how should you go about it? Should you pop over to your neighbours house, knock on the door and ask them what you can do for them? Or take it upon yourself to complete a kind but unsolicited gesture, like mowing the lawn or baking them some muffins?
The concept of unsolicited help is a tricky one: on the one hand, surprising someone with a gesture of generosity is such a beautiful sentiment; but on the other hand, the person may feel embarrassed that you thought they couldn’t handle the task themselves, or there could be a reason why they hadn’t done the task themselves
We never want to cause offense or embarrassment by extending an offer of support to others. It’s not a far stretch to imagine; putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes we know it’s sometimes hard to accept help because we don’t want to be a bother to others, even when the help is really needed.
Determining hard and fast rules on how best to help others is impossible. But here are some guidelines to follow that can help you decide how to show your support to others and have that help received in the right way.
It all depends on who you are helping
It’s usually a safe bet to provide an unsolicited gesture to a close friend or a family member. You already have more awareness of the ins and outs of their lives; you know the things they need help with. Maybe they’ve grumbled to you about not having enough time to cook dinner every night of the week – so showing up on a Wednesday with a family sized pasta-bake would likely be a big hit.
With someone you don’t know as well, like a neighbour to whom you occasionally call the odd ‘hello’ over the driveway, it can be trickier. Going round and mowing Dave’s grass without asking could absolutely make his day, or, you could be taking away his ‘me time’ that he’s waiting for the next sunny day to enjoy. Now, I’m sure Dave wouldn’t kick up a fuss, but really, you’ve unknowingly caused more disappointment than you have joy.
The exception to this is that if you spot someone in the carpark struggling to load their heavy supermarket bags into their car, running over and helping out would be a no-brainer!
Put the shoe on the other foot
If you get really stuck weighing up how to help someone – just do it! At the end of the day, if someone left a box of donuts on your doorstep or swept the fallen leaves off your path, you’d probably be stoked! Receiving a gesture like that can leave us with nothing but an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
So… if you’re really not sure and think you might cause offense to someone you don’t know very well then maybe sleep on it. But in all other circumstances, we say you should just go ahead and mow that lawn! We are sure the recipient of your surprise will absolutely love it.
Has someone surprised you?
If you’ve been on the receiving end of a gesture like this? Lucky you!! Did it fill you with gratitude? Have you been hovering around the driveway hoping to run into Dave so you can say thanks? Well, the easiest way to tell the world what an awesome neighbour you have is to jump online and shout it from the virtual rooftops! Say thank you the best way we know how, by sharing your story on sharegratitude.com