A woman with two young kids and luggage was looking for a seat on a train I was recently on from NYC. I was lost in my work until she loudly said, “No one on this train is a good person.”
At once, I simultaneously felt like hugging and shaking her: hugging because we’ve all been there, making the mistake of assuming that people know what we need and then rejecting them when they don’t read our minds. (Joe will attest to this for me.)
Shaking her because that was the worst way to get the help she needed. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are wrapped up in their own stories. Even the ones who want to help might not know how.
I know this is hard, but next time you are overwhelmed, remember this woman. Take a deep breath and assume that the world does want to help. Then explicitly ask for what you need.
We do want to help. Just ask.