There’s a video that I watched a long time ago on TED, and that got a tremendous impact on my perception of helping others.
The video is called “You want to help someone? Shut up and listen!”, and was presented by Ernesto Sirolli, a consultant who got his start doing aid in Africa in the ’70s, and realized how ineffective it was.
The lesson is so valuable, but somehow it appears to be counterintuitive. And as true and valuable as is it, it is hard to implement.
The main point is that we don’t know what other people need. Only they may tell us how we can help.
There is no point guessing what your friend needs.
Sometimes, it is just an ear. A patient and caring friend that is fully listening with empathy, and not doing anything else than listening.
There is no need to find a solution for our friend because she will know what she needs better than anyone else.
At times, especially with younger people than ourselves, the only wish we could make is that they seek our advice. But as long as they don’t require it, our word is not required.
The only thing they need is our patient, empathic, caring, actively listening ear.
Here is the video: