I’m still in Vancouver for Michael Port‘s “Beyond Booked Solid” seminar on how to build systems to support a business that is full and thriving.

If you’re wondering how I manage to be attending a seminar all day and writing blog posts, I’m not. Advance publishing, baby.

We’ll be back to talking about patterns and habits and how to change them … very, very soon.

Let’s do this thing!

Okay, this is the third and last in a series of three about how to annoy the people you want to help, which of course you don’t actually want to do. The first was Don’t speak their language and the second was Put them in an awkward, uncomfortable situation.

Again, the person you want to help might be a friend or family member and it might be a client or customer. Or a blog reader. The idea is: whoah, there’s stuff we do that scares them off and gets on their nerves. Even though we actually want to help.

Today we’ll deal with the third way (and you probably don’t want to do this one either!) to annoy the people you want to help:

Ignore their pain. Or — even worse — dismiss it.

Or even worse, gloat.

You want to annoy someone you care about?


Tell them the thing they’re struggling with is “easy”.

Imply that they’re incompetent, slow or lazy.

Tell them anyone can do it. See above.

Tell them to get over themselves.

Instead of acknowledging their pain, ignore it. Or worse.

For example?

Let’s say someone you love is dealing with over-eating issues, and you wish they’d stop because you’re concerned for their health, or because you know something is upsetting them, or whatever your reasons are.

It’s not going to be helpful to tell them to just stop.

Or if you imply that they can’t stop because you think that they’re weak and have no self-discipline. That’s really just going to result in them being upset, which means they’re just going to want to eat more.

What you want to be able to do (if you really do want to help) is to recognize that this person you care about is — whether they want to stop or not — dealing with guilt and resentment and frustration and all sorts of other things that really aren’t fun.

And that the only way they’ll ever give any thought to taking care of themselves in the way you wish they would, is if they feel safe and supported.

Adding to their load of guilt and criticism, oddly enough, does not help them feel more safe and supported.

And yet … almost everybody does it. And it’s usually not out of cruelty or wanting to be a “meany-poop” (to borrow a word from one of the awesome participants in the “non-icky self-promotion” course).

It’s just through not paying attention. Through pushing a little too hard. Through wanting to help without stopping to notice what kind of help this person you care about so deeply actually needs.

Happens in the business world too …

A certain biggifier has an email noozletter that I used to subscribe to mostly just to gather content for my “what not to do” folder ….

And part of her schtick is that each week she shares a bit about her life. A cute picture of her kid. A mention of something that’s going on in her ultra-fabulous business. And so on.

Except that she’s marketing primarily to struggling business owners.

Struggling! Busy work-at-home moms. People who are saving money at their “real” jobs to launch something new from the basement. Or whatever, you’re running a semi-successful business but a lot of the time it’s really just you sitting on the bed with a laptop.

So every time she’d say something that was meant to be “Hi, I’m communicating in an authentic voice because I read in a book that this is smart marketing“, it would come across as smug and self-satisfied.

And every time she’d do this, you knew that at least half the people on her noozletter list were totally wanting to smack her silly.

Like how fun it is only working a couple hours a day. Or how she’d just spent that morning having a tea party for her kid, since her business runs itself. Or how her husband just surprised her with another yacht for her birthday.

I’m not even making this stuff up, unfortunately. I’d love to come up with something that’s just an insane exaggeration but this is exactly the sort of thing she writes about.

My personal favorite was the time she complained about how hard it is being pregnant and not being able to fit into her size 2 pants anymore.

Sigh! I know! It’s so *hard* being wealthy and skinny and having all the time in the world.

Man, I’d lose my entire audience if I pulled something like that. Except that I wouldn’t, because I kind of want my right people to feel safe and secure, not like they want to kill me.

Sure, some of them probably do anyway because I’m doing what I love. But that’s why I take pains to let people know that no, my life isn’t perfect. And that yes, I’m still deeply engaged in my own process.

And that ow, my stuff comes up and things hurt sometimes and I screw up and I have issues of my own.

Turning it around.

Okay, so you want people to listen and pay attention. Me too.

The easiest way (it’s not actually easy, just being relative here) to get to that point is to listen and pay attention to them.

Figure out which part is your stuff and which part is their stuff.

Notice their fears (but without judging them for having them).

Recognize that they’re in pain (but without judging them for being there).

Pay attention to how your stuff comes up when you pay attention to their stuff (but without judging yourself for having stuff).

That’s it for our “things to think about while I’m getting an ass-kicking in Vancouver” series. Good luck with helping the people you want to help … and with everything else you’re working on. Talk soon!

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