Actually Helping

Don’s Diary ( Actually Helping )

The modern euphemism: “We must catch up some time” can hint at more than possible insincerely. A serious attempt to maintain contact would go something like this: “Name a day next week and we will meet at the xxxxxxx at 11.00 am”, or “Are you free next Thursday to have dinner here?” People who offer non-specific invitations are likely to be those that provide as we say: “every assistance but short of actual help.” Real assistance in organisations requires goal directed activity. Elsewhere it can be a bit harder.

Masonic benevolence should extend beyond simply donating money. To provide the often necessary emotional and physical help requires an acute sensitivity and understanding of requirements. The relief of associated mental pressures will probably be needed. It must be recognised that many people, especially as they get older and infirm, may not realise their need for assistance or are too proud to ask. To understand the circumstances of one to be helped, close personal contact needs to be maintained over a long period of time and their confidence needs to be won. It may be necessary to maintain a diary of future events about the afflicted containing times of key events so as to maintain timely contact. Sometimes it is a benefit to do some study so as to understand better the circumstances of the afflicted. Help must be given as unobtrusively as possible and with no conditions implied or attached. The problem must be dealt with, not the circumstances of its occurrence. There can be no critique of the situation: non-judgemental. Generosity in all actions must be discreetly demonstrated but nothing done that will cause embarrassment.

Punctuality is essential and the helper must come dressed and equipped for the occasion. A good approach is to initiate assistance by saying: “I am going to come around tomorrow and do so and so – OK? Or “May I engage a cleaner to regularly clean your house; investigate getting some home nursing and find a GP who will do home visits?” Be prepared to do more than called upon. Help requires your entire attention un-distracted by long calls on the telephone of having to rush off to another engagement. Just “popping in” or an odd phone call is often seen as tokenism – quality time and a personal presence is needed on most occasions. Just a few nice handwritten words on a Christmas or birthday card are not enough either. It is inadequate to say ring me if you want a hand when help is obviously needed. You must look and act as if you care. If you are not prepared to provide assistance of this nature then it is probably better to drop the charade and say that you cannot or do not want to provide assistance that will actually help so that other arrangements can be made.

Learning to provide assistance that is actually helpful is a bit like learning to be an employee. Some never learn to do that successfully any more than they learn to manage their domestic and family circumstances. It is necessary to understand the goals and objectives of your boss, your bosses’ likes and dislikes, to be tolerant of your bosses’ manner. Learn what outcomes are expected and become a problem solver. It requires a regular dialogue between you and your boss to determine if what you are doing is what is wanted or if there is anything else that your boss would rather have done. This done, your assistance may actually be helpful!

Yours fraternally ,

Don Paterson