Helping people is part of humanity, part of who we are, a strong pillar upon which civilized society is built. It is an act of kindness, a gesture of good will and selflessness, but also a measuring stick used to gauge people as being “good” or “bad”.
But have you ever had a good deed backfire on you? Have you ever helped a friend, a colleague, or a relative only to live to regret it in the end?
Off course you have. Perhaps famous blogger CamMi Pham, or rather his mother, put it best:
“My mother taught me never to give unsolicited advice nor try to help anyone unless they ask you for it. I always thought that maybe she was just cold.
As I get older, I have started to realize that she was right. My mother is one of the kindest people in my life.”
Rule number 1:
Stop helping people who don’t deserve it.
“Start-up founders often ask me for advice. I know that running a start-up is hard work — I run one myself. However, I have stopped sharing my knowledge for free. Previously, people would constantly ask me out for a coffee just to ‘pick my brain’.
“But those who have a few million dollars raised from venture capital funds lying in their bank accounts shouldn’t be allowed to use my expertise for free, especially if they didn’t even bother paying for my tea. It’s not acceptable!”
Rule number 2:
Don’t help people who do not appreciate your help.
This rule basically tells you to save your good deeds and advice for people who’ll recognise and appreciate your efforts to try and help them.
Here’s an example of the type of people CamMi Pham is talking about:
“One of my former clients wasn’t doing well. My team spent several days analyzing all the data to figure out what the problem was. That wasn’t actually part of our job, so we didn’t bill the client. As a result, we found some serious flaws in their business model and strategy. But as soon as we showed the customer our findings, they fired us on the spot,” he said.
“We did that analysis out of compassion for the client. But we told them what they didn’t want to hear and ended up making our client hate us for giving our professional opinion.”
According to him, the easiest way to turn your friend into an enemy is to offer them advice they don’t want to hear.
“If I offer someone my help, I actually want to help. But very often, people are not ready to accept my help. It’s okay,” CamMi Pham explained.
Rule number 3:
Stop helping people unless you’re certain that you carry out the task
For the sake of everyone, refrain from offering your help in matters where you are not skilled enough and can’t deliver.
It will do more harm than good and could permanently damage your relationship with the other side. Moreover, by offering to help yourself, you will only deprive people of the opportunity to find a better candidate.
CamMi Pham provides us with another plastic example from his personal life to demonstrate the implications of such action.
“A few years ago, my parents were out of the country and asked me to look after their house. I agreed, although I had no idea how to water the plants. So some of the flowers were watered too much and others were given too little water,” he said.
“By the time my parents returned, all the houseplants had died. If they hadn’t asked me for help, someone who is good at housekeeping would have done it, and my dad’s flowers would have been alive. Ever since, my parents have never let me touch the plants again.”