My pile of unspoken needs has grown

Most people who ask us for help don’t actually want it. 

Help is just a safe word. A convenient veneer of civility layered over a deeper human need that is being sought out, like being seen and heard, feeling a sense of confirmation and affirmation and knowing that they’re not crazy and alone in the world. 

And so, when people come to us in need of wise counsel, before we rush in to fix and save and advise and correct, before we slap on our guru hat and deliver some trumpeting insight that becomes fundamental to that person’s worldview, we first consider a few questions. 

What is this person’s contextual situation? 

What universal human emotion is at stake here? 

What might be the big hairy thing lurking in the shadows of the surface problem?

What crucial elements has this person not told me about yet that I need to better understand before responding? 

Pausing to think about these elements allows us to establish a holistic context of empathy, curiosity and understanding around our interactions with each other. It’s how we do justice to the complex context of other people’s experience and empower them to tackle their own issues. 

Skilled therapists practice it on a daily basis. They understand they can’t solve a patient’s problem until they understand the story behind. 

Otherwise they’re simply wallpapering over the trauma, letting the pile of unmet needs grow. 


What structure could you put in place to make sure you do justice to the complex context of other people’s experience?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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