I imagine every person reading this knows someone who needs help. The problem is typically people don’t ask for it (at least in my experience) and people fucking hate getting advice when they didn’t ask for it. You probably don’t like giving advice either, the idea of being the superior and in any way like your old lame professors/teachers is a huge turnoff. As a result very people I know and probably very few people in general want to become teachers.
This isn’t what teaching has to be like though. Teaching can be simply having good and helpful conversations about a subject that interests the student. I imagine almost everyone likes doing this. The way you do this is complex but it starts with simply trying to understand this person and guide them. This means you have to listen and a thing you will notice is that conversations automatically get a lot better when you actually listen, instead of worrying about what you’ll say next or checking your phone every 5 seconds. You simply just have to be interested in what they’re saying, that’s all it takes. If you do this you can create helping conversations as equals while building a stronger relationships with them. Once you understand the problem you can help guide them. Here’s an example from a conversation I had in my problem solving coaching:
Me: Why haven’t you contacted any people to talk poker with?
Student: I’m worried that when I talk to poker players I will sound stupid.
Me: How would you feel if someone said something stupid while talking poker with them.
Student: I would try to explain why I think they’re wrong and would only think they’re stupid if they didn’t listen.
Me: Would you ever consider someone stupid if they said something “dumb” then changed their mind when you corrected them?
Me: What are the chances that you’ll say something dumb and then not listen or stick to what you said when they try to correct you?
Student: 0% (he chuckled realizing what I was getting at.
You’ll notice that I didn’t give any advice in this situation. I could’ve just came out and said this but this way he comes to the idea on his own, he learns an important method of thinking (which I’ll explain in a sec) and I don’t have to be an advice giver.
The method I used is called switching the point of view, which I did with my second question "How would you feel if someone said something stupid while talking poker with them?” This method works because people can more easily detach from their fears and see the situation more clearly. This is just one type of method of questioning. There is devils advocate, taking the opposite position (even if you disagree with it), questions that set logical traps, questions that help define, questions that help illuminate and questions that prioritize just to name a few.
To know what questions to ask you must do what you would do in poker or any skill really, you gather information on your opponent (student) and use that to know what type of mistakes they’re making and what line of questioning to use. There all different types of mistakes: Mistakes due to limiting beliefs, lack of knowledge, bad logic, fear/anxiety, lack of understanding, lack of priorities, and philosophical values… once again to name a few.
This sounds way too hard to be possible and that’s because it is really hard and I haven’t even discussed all of the teaching process. There is so much more to it. Teaching at a high level is as difficult as the stuff you see Tiger Woods do on the golf course or Lebron James do on the court. So the next time you offer advice and feel self righteous when someone “you were just trying to help” gets angry at you, understand how difficult the skill of teaching and helping is. Try to learn from that experience. You cannot get better unless you start listening and start asking questions. You can’t have the mindset like the above though, you must take extreme ownership and whenever something goes wrong you look for your mistakes first before theirs.
When you do this it becomes like a really interesting game, you’re constantly analyzing and making decisions. You will connect with and understand people on a deeper level which will help you understand yourself. If this sounds interesting to you, get out there and start teaching or start reading this. I'll continue to write more about this, especially if people start showing interest in it. If you're interested in me writing more about this or talking to me about this subject, post in the comments, message me on twitter, FB or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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