The Benefits of Saying, “Sorry, I Can’t Help”

12 May

On Wednesday I shared some thoughts on asking for help and paying for help. We all get asked to help with something at some point. If you’re like me, you want to help and you may have a hard time saying no when you’re asked for help. There are some benefits to saying no when you really cannot help.

All of us are seen as “experts” by someone. If you have a just a little more knowledge than the person asking for your help, you’re that person’s “expert.” For example, a couple of years ago I my friend, Bruce, asked me if I could help him develop a website for his small business. I initially said yes. I changed my mind when he started talking about setting-up an online shopping cart, that was out of my realm of expertise. In that case I referred Bruce to another acquaintance who can and does create website that have secure online shopping carts.  Bruce was happy with the referral because he now had two experts to tap for information.

When the first iPad came out I received some requests from schools that wanted professional development around iPads. At that point I didn’t feel that I had enough experience with iPads to offer iPad PD. So rather than say yes then end up offering a less-than-great workshop, I referred those requests to a couple of people that I knew would do a great job. The schools were happy, the people who got the jobs were happy, and my professional reputation was not dinged by trying to rush to develop a PD workshop. (By the way, I now offer PD with iPads).

Sometimes it’s better to say, “sorry, I can’t help you” than it is to fake it and offer help that doesn’t really help.

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