Do you ever find that it is easier to do a job yourself than to explain it to another person, and hope they do it properly?
I think I’m one of those people who like to know that all of the ends are tied up. If I’m organising something, I want to know that nothing will go wrong – at least, nothing that I couldn’t have predicted. Being this way means that it can be hard to ask others when I need help because they might not do it “my” way.
My favourite part of my work is the group I started a few years ago for parents and carers and their babies and toddlers. We have a short service with time to play and chat before and after. I started running it alone, with help from a rota of ladies to make tea and coffee. After a few months, a regular volunteer came along to help, and introduced the idea of running a craft activity now and again. It has become an integral part of the session.
Sharing the responsibility
I’m lucky now to have team of volunteers who come along and help. As I do the planning for the service, I’ve ended up trying to work out what craft activity might go with the theme. I’m the first person to admit that craft has never been one of my strong points (don’t ask about my knitting), but I am improving. However, thinking up a craft activity suitable for children 0-4 is sometimes beyond me.
I know now that if I turn up and look helpless, in a flash the volunteers will come up with an idea of what to do the next week. Just to be clear, I don’t turn up and look helpless as a rouse to get them to do it, I am actually helpless on lots of occasions!
What I have come to realise is that by asking them to take on more responsibility, they feel they have ownership of part of the group. I am able to let some of the burden go to someone else, safe in the knowledge that even if it isn’t done my way, it is done – and much of the time it is done a lot better than I could have managed it.
If you are a bit of a perfectionist, you may prefer doing things yourself. You may like things to be done just so, and feel that if you ask someone else to do it, it won’t be as good as if it were done your way.
Or it may be a case of not wanting to bother others. If you work hard or fast enough, you will get it all done. And perhaps you secretly like it when others think you’re a wonder for fitting everything into such a tight schedule.
Sometimes, people want to help, but don’t know how. Asking them to do a task that you can do with your eyes closed might seem silly to you, but actually empowers the other person. It may give them a sense of achievement, and can build up their sense of self-esteem. They may feel more valuable and capable as people because you have put your trust in them.
Of course, there needs to be a slight hazard warning: they probably won’t do it your way. And this may be difficult to deal with at first. It can be a challenge to realise that other people’s way may be better than your own.
I find it sad when people feel they can’t work as a team – although it may be hard work at times, they miss out on the sense of sharing and the closeness it can bring. I have learnt a lot from this team of women, and have come to view them as good friends. I don’t know where I would be without them now. I know I can trust that they will help me when I need it.
Have you been empowered by someone putting their trust in you?
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First photo: Katie Hobson