Listen to the need before you offer help.

If you take pride in being strong and independent, asking for help is especially hard. Revealing the cracks in your armor as one of my startup colleague recently commented takes courage.

Many people only share the positive events in their life on social media. If that is your main source of contact with your friends, it can seem like they are flawless or doing well. That makes it harder for them to admit to being less than perfect. However, the reality is that everyone has cracks and sometimes those cracks become holes too big for one person to plug.

The Covid pandemic is straining everyone one way or another. According to a recent JAMA study, those with less than $5,000 in savings are suffering the most. When you consider most Americans don’t have $400 in their bank account to cover emergency healthcare needs, someone in your network likely needs help.

It might be a family member, friend or a colleague. If so, these tips will help you figure out the best way to help.

Three questions to ask someone in need of help

1/ How are you?

One of the kindest things you can do to ask someone how they are doing especially if you know they might be in a vulnerable position. If they say fine or good, keep checking in. It’s the frequency that lets them know you really care.

If no one comes to mind, consider serving your community. I serve a startup community and host weekly office hours for healthcare founders. They can show up whenever they need some input from me or others in the community. The needs are often business problems that need to be solved but sometimes it is just the connection to others who have experienced the journey.

2/ What do you need?

It takes courage to ask this question because the needs might be more than what you have to give. That’s why people make offers or give something before they understand the need. Meeting the need is important because the ultimate goal is to help that person move forward. Otherwise it feels like you’re constantly giving and nothing is changing.

3/ How can I help?

Let the person answer so that they can ask for what they need. It might help clarify gaps in your understanding and give you more insights in how you can help.

Almost every healthcare founder that I work with needs money that I don’t have to give them. However, I have time, lots of experience and a network of potential clients and investors who can write the checks to fund their companies. 

There are always ways that you can help to meet the need. Think about what you have to give that could help.


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