I’m no stranger to the frustration that comes from not having the time or energy to express what I want or need. And while it would have been nice to have someone in my corner to intuitively pick up the pieces without me having to say a word, that’s a big and unreasonable ask of anyone. I can’t expect anyone to be in my head to validate me, and if I put that expectation on anyone I’d be setting myself up for failure.
There’s a theory called The Diffusion Of Responsibility that says people are less likely to take initiative or responsibility for something if they have others present. Why? It’s because when we have people in our corner we feel more secure, like it’ll be handled. That secure feeling becomes a problem when we can’t properly articulate what we need. Whether it be because of exhaustion, fear, pride, or even confusion, we can avoid allowing them to hinder us by laying out every detail of what we need to make it easier for the people around us to do what they need to do.
For example: If you need your VA to organize your email inbox into different folders and to clear out junk, what would you tell them? If you just slap them with a ‘clean up my inbox’ without any direction of what folders need to be created or what you consider junk, the chances are your email will end up in a bigger mess than you started with because your VA didn’t have clear direction. You’ll be looking for your Aunt Pamela’s email for months.
But if you had told them something clear and detailed like “Please organize my email inbox by publication (with a list of publications), friends (with a list of friends), and client communication (with a list of clients). Anything that doesn’t fit into these categories please unsubscribe to and archive,” you could have saved yourself the trouble of having to go back and try and fix or retrieve everything.
I know upfront it might seem like more work to have to lay out all of those details, but you create more work for you and them by not being clear in the first place.
Support is valuable, and really great support is hard to come by. Trust me. When you find really great support and impose on others to read your mind, they get frustrated, – feel your frustration, and are less likely to want to help you in the future.
It’s ok to be overwhelmed sometimes, but it’s not ok to impose that on others. So get clear and get to work!