Effective strategies for helping
There are many different kinds of situations where people need help, but there are a few key strategies that work in almost any context.
Some situations are straightforward, like when someone falls on the stairs or clearly needs help and can’t help themselves, and being direct may be your best option.
Be Creative, Use Distraction
Sometimes being direct has the potential to backfire, especially if tempers are high or people have been drinking, or if you’re worried you might be reading the situation wrong. Creating a distraction to draw attention away from a problem or interrupting a bad interaction can be very effective.
Be Creative, Go Covert
This is the art of flying under the radar. This strategy can be really useful when you don’t want to make people mad or risk embarrassing them, or draw attention to what you are doing. A successful “covert” intervention might not look like an intervention at all to someone else watching the situation.
Be Resourceful, Get Other Helpers
Sometimes the best strategy is to alert others of the situation. This may mean getting someone who is better positioned to help or who has the authority to address the problem. It may also just mean getting more people around you to recognize the problem and join in helping.
Now vs. Later
Sometimes helping doesn’t have to be limited to right there in the moment. In situations that aren’t emergencies, if we’re acquainted with the people involved, we have the option to talk to them at a later time. In some situations, the most effective time to act may be later, not on the spot. You may want time to gather your thoughts or think about what to say.