Assisting Others is Great—but Leave Them Wiggle Room

Over the past few weeks I have slowly but surely been teaching my super-patient husband, Keith, how to assist me in various yoga poses.

The other day as he was helping me with the pose, above, I said,

“I need you to step back so my arm has somewhere to go… I need wiggle room.”

What this triggered for me was how often we—in our rush to assist colleagues, friends, and family—forget to leave room for them to say,

  • “I’m not quite ready for help”
  • “I don’t need that much help”
  • Or even, “No, thanks.”

But as I’m sure you’ve noticed when you’ve been on the receiving end of help from others, assistance is often easier to accept if you have some control over how, when—and even if—it is something you want.

Another generous—and sometimes overlooked—way to help others is to leave room for them to contribute to you, should they wish to.

After all, you enjoy giving to others—they’re likely to enjoy giving to you, too.

So while I know it can feel so, so good to race to the rescue—particularly in recent days when so many people are in physical, mental, and emotional need—your generous impulse is likely to be far more easily, and gratefully, received if you leave others wiggle room to accept, reject or, perhaps, give back to you.


Speaking of helping others, here is one of the most effective, graceful formulas for starting that conversation that I know, “How to Wow Like Alicia Keys”