By Jay Ledesma

How can I help you?

December 12, 2021, 12:10 am

IN my new favorite medical drama series "New Amsterdam”, the main character Dr. Max Goodwin, assumed the job of running the New Amsterdam Hospital and started bringing back humanity, decency, and purpose in the workplace by asking everyone a basic question: "How can I help you?"  He believes that his job as the hospital head, is not to order around but to help make the lives of the doctors and staff better within the hospital, so they can attend to and serve their patients well. In the later episodes, one can see how his mindset slowly rubbed into the other characters. That question basically sums up the central theme of the show, which endeared them to the audience, like me. 

How can I help you? A basic and simple question yet needs to be asked more often. Sadly, people can be so mean, harsh, selfish, and self-centered. We easily judge others based on their religion, political affiliation, gender, sexuality, social standing, and age. We bash and shame in social media people who don’t share our opinions, beliefs, and preference. We doubt and put color on the goodness of those who are reaching out yet we are quick to turn our backs on those who are in need. We are motivated by our own agenda and interests over the betterment of the majority.  

That’s why I like watching New Amsterdam because the show and the characters prove that people can be selfless as they are selfish. We can be kind and compassionate as we are mean and cruel. We can be understanding and appreciative as we are judgmental.  We can be servant leaders as we are self-serving. That we can all be better individuals if only our mindset is how to help others.  

Come to think of it, it is not something monumental or earth-shaking to ask someone, how can I help you? We don’t need to be super rich, super intellectual, super powerful, or super moral to do this. In our own small, ordinary and humble ways, we can do and be a Dr Max. We are all given the opportunity, even the simplest ones, to ask with all sincerity, that simple question: how can I help you? We may not be able to solve the whole problem for them. But we can do things and gestures that will make things feel a little better. 

This pandemic just gave us that opportunity. Many of our fellow Filipinos are suffering financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally due to the uncertainties and hardships brought about by this health crisis. And we can help out a thousand ways. It should not always be about money.  Some are afraid to ask questions because they may not have the financial means to help. But you may be surprised that there are those who only need somebody who will listen to them, provide them the right information, give them words of assurance and encouragement and even a simple smile or extend an extra hand. Help is not always in the form of cash. 

We can make things better for each other at home. Instead of spending time on social media, children can ask how they can help with household chores. Or when they see their parents struggling in digital technology, they can always volunteer to teach and show them. When we see our children having a hard time in their assignments or projects, or are stressed from their work, as parents, do we ask our children how we can help them? It’s not necessarily by giving them advice or suggestions. Sometimes they just need us to be their sounding board or they just need a nice hot meal. Or sometimes they just need a tight embrace. The idea is how we can ease up each other’s concerns.

As business leaders, our role is not just to give targets and ask for results from our people. We also need to ask how we can help them so they can do their jobs effectively and deliver. And vise versa, staff members should also ask their bosses, as well as their colleagues, from time to time, how they can help them? One agency leader that I know will always ask her sales team how she can help with their backroom concerns. She believes that one of her roles as a leader is to remove all the obstacles that can defocus her people from their selling activities. During this time when we are still fully adjusting to the new normal, any help from each other will be appreciated and go a long way.

Asking this question should be foremost in the mind of everyone connected in the service industry or working in government agencies, especially our elected officials. They are, after all, placed in their position to help others. How ideal it would be that instead of making people go through all the bureaucracy and red tapes, these service and government personnel will ask “how can I help make things easier for these people?” When I was renewing my driver's license, I noticed that the old man ahead of me was confused with all the documents he is holding. It was music to the ears when I heard one of the counter personnel ask him, “Unsa man ang problema Lolo? Unsaon ko pagtabang kanimo (What’s your problem sir? How can I help you)?"

Instead of thinking about how their programs can enrich and benefit them and their families, how we wish all those running for election next year will ask “how can my program really help improve the plight of my constituents?” How many of them will go out after being elected, to sincerely ask their constituents “As your elected official, how can I help make life better for you?       

Imagine the ripple effect that asking this question can create. If we just helped one person, and that person will help somebody, and that somebody will help another one. 

Often, when we see people stressed, sad, or in pain, our usual tendency is to ask them “how are you feeling? Are you okay? What’s wrong?” Or we immediately give advice or suggestions. I believe it would make a whale of a difference when instead of asking these questions or giving advice, we start asking “how can I help you?” Let’s be mindful also that people can be proud and not ask for help but it doesn’t mean they don’t need it. Sometimes, they just need to be asked.

It’s just a few days to Christmas… the season of being extra kind, generous, and giving. Think about asking that question. Think about the person who needs it most. Ask it with all sincerity and without expecting any return. Do it because you want to make things for that person a little better.    

How can I help you? If only we can ask this more often. If only every one of us can ask someone this question, what a better universe this would be! 

A blessed and happy Christmas to all!!!


About the Columnist

Image of Jay Ledesma

Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.