How to do something instead of saying, ‘Let me know if there’s something I can do’

Please know all offers, and intended kindnesses, are appreciated. They are.

This is not a message of shame or criticism. Rather, from an etiquette perspective, coming from a person who just experienced being in a position where things being done for me were wonderfully welcomed here’s what I have gathered, learned and want to share.

While not everyone reaches out during a birth, a death, illness, an accident, a surgery or other exciting, or trying, times, many do. Focus on those who do. Be appreciative to be on their minds and in their hearts. Spend almost no time, if possible, wondering the reason someone did not call, text or message you. They may not know what to say or do. Find solace in wishing them well, as you get well, as it is best for healing to stay positive and forward-thinking.

If, however, you are on the other side of a friend experiencing a birth, death, accident, surgery or any other exciting, or trying, time, here’s what you may want to do (and what I will do in the future):

Something.

When people message “Let me know if there is anything I can do,” or “If there is something I can do, let me know,” it is a gesture and it is nice. Still, it gives that person, recovering, a to-do while it likely makes you feel as though you took action. Most of the time, that is the end of the exchange. That’s OK.

What is better is to offer options such as “Would you like me to get you something to eat early Monday or Tuesday?”

What is best is to be specific with something like “I am dropping off a dry cleaning bag Tuesday, at your front door, and will be back Thursday between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. to get it and have your clothes dry cleaned so that is not on your mind as you go through this. There is no expectation of you to come out unless you want to. Thinking of you, and clean clothes, is something I can handle.”

Other options:

S—Send a card, a text, an email, a note, flowers, a plant, a donation in his/her name to their favorite charity or even send a simple emoji so that person is aware you are thinking of him/her.

O—Offer to cook, or deliver, a meal at a specific time/date within options for a clear choice, or offer, to set up a meal train for deliveries.

M—Make that person’s favorite cookie, or candy, (or make a trip to the store to get it).

E—Engage in a conversation on the phone or text that is beyond “How are you?” Find out what is happening. Let the person know what is happening with people, and organizations, they care about without gossip but with positivity.

T—Take time to put together a basket of “feel goods” to drop off for that transition time.

H—Help communicate with other people on ways to assist by taking the lead on coordination, or simple communication, (favorite stores, experiences for gift cards or invitations—even if you are not super close, social media posts tell a lot about stores, and brands, someone enjoys).

I—Include the person in invitations, in a special way, that lets him/her know they are welcome and it is also OK if they do not go (don’t assume she/he won’t want to go).

N—Notice trends in what that person tends to do and make those happen (walking the dogs, watering flowers).

G—Get many cards and mail them at various times, and dates, (after the rush and to make that person smile).

If wanting to do something feels like uncertainty, then there are options for action. Everyone’s time, and budget, fits into one or more of them. This way, moving from the “Can I do something?” to knowing I can do something means you will do something.

Debbie Lundberg is the founder of her Florida-based firm, Presenting Powerfully, where the focus is reversing the “slobification” of America with effective communication, professional behaviors and thriving relationships. This happens through four offerings: keynotes and talks, strategy and facilitation, teaming, training, consulting and executive presence coaching. Lundberg co-hosts “The Business Of Life Master Class Podcast” with her colleague and broadcast partner. A published author, certified life coach, certified leadership coach and certified image consultant, Lundberg’s latest book, Remote Work Rockstar: How to Work and Lead Successfully in a Virtual Environment, was released in May and is available through LuLu Press (lulu.com) or directly via her website, debbielundberg.com.

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