Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

A Nudge May Be Enough

Sometimes a nudge is enough--and more is too much. This post follows the one about being cheerful and busy without being excessive. So, I guess moderation is the theme for now!

Some people complain that workplaces are filled with self-centered people who don’t extend themselves to help others. However, it seems to me there are a lot of Rescuers, too.  A Rescuer, in Transactional Analysis concepts, is someone who puts more effort into solving another person’s problem than that person is putting into it. This may be motivated by sincere interest and a desire to be helpful–or by a bit of ego about having a solution to every problem. (It also can be a way to control and repress others.)

Even appropriate help and support should be limited in time and quantity.  This refers to meddling and smothering rather than appropriate assistance and support by supervisors or coworkers. Have you ever known a know-it-all who always has a better way to do things?  Avoid that by suggesting resources you find effective, but not lecturing.  Unless it is crucial that the other person does it your way, let them find the solution that is best for them. 

A friend (Chris) told me about working to break a habit. His supervisor knew about it but went far past being encouraging to becoming like a therapist. Every time the supervisor saw Chris he’d mention it, pull him aside to ask how he was doing, and often critique his efforts.  It  was excessive and irritating. When the supervisor started researching support groups Chris acted disinterested and the supervisor seemed offended that his help wasn’t appreciated. However, he needed to stop his excessive involvement.

Too much mentoring? The same goes for mentoring behavior–some of it is supportive and encouraging. Too much of it can be overwhelming. It’s good to have high expectations for others as long as we don’t try to push them to be our version of what is successful.

Pay attention to the reaction you get when you give advice or encouragement. If you are trying to be helpful about an issue that is not related to good work for which you are ultimately responsible, notice the reactions you’re getting. If you mostly hear excuses or if your suggestions seem to be shrugged off or even resented, stop. Even if it appears your advice is appreciated, back off if you don’t see any of it being taken.  Nudging once or twice is helpful,  pushing, pulling, shoving or dragging is not.

July 31st, 2009 Posted by | Life and Work, Supervision and Management | 8 comments


  1. I could see myself in this, but at home not at work, especially with my younger sister. Just ask her! OK, I’ll really work at not doing that. I don’t want to be a know-it-all, but what am I going to do when I really think I know better than she does?

    Comment by denisek | August 1, 2009

  2. Tina says: What you have to watch is that if you do it at home you may be doing it at work more than you realize–especially if someone has the little sister or little brother role in your mind. Beware! 🙂

    It’s OK to give our personal experiences, but I’m thinking more about those who beat you over the head with their opinions or who correct the decisions of others, just to be sounding like the expert. As I wrote the post I realized there are variables…but I’m hoping I was clear about the balance I meant.

    Comment by TLR | August 1, 2009

  3. Recently a young pastor I was mentoring told me in a very gracious way that it was time I allowed him to deal with some issues on his own rather than giving him a list of instructions for every situation.

    I am more effective as a parent about not overdoing it, than I am in my work with junior colleagues. My prayer before every meeting is that I will know when I have said enough.

    Blessings on you this weekend and every day. Don

    Comment by Don R. | August 1, 2009

  4. Tina says: Thank you Don, for your comments. I always appreciate them. Regarding your prayer to know when you have said enough: I have found that God lets me know I have said enough by making the eyes of those around me glaze over. Look for that holy sign! 🙂

    Comment by TLR | August 1, 2009

  5. Tina, I met you at the NOBLE conference and thought you were hilariously funny and also very interesting. I hope to get to attend some training of yours and will be in contact with you about it.

    I would also like a copy of the church security material as well as the other papers you mentioned. It’s great of you to offer that kind of help. Thanks again for the NOBLE workshop, it was excellent. J.A.

    Comment by Arkansas NOBLE | August 2, 2009

  6. Tina says: The material is on its way, J.A.! I also received your email and will stay in touch. The conference was wonderful and I’m looking forward to a repeat or some other work with NOBLE sometime.

    I was sponsored by Harris Corporation, and Greg Coleman did a tremendous job of coordinating everything in the exhibition area as well as making my arrangements.

    Comment by TLR | August 2, 2009

  7. What do you suggest for those of us who are the recepients of all the efforts of a Rescuer? I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I don’t like to talk to her about anything because I get bombarded with advice and more advice. Whatever I’ve done, she has ideas for how I can do it better or easier next time. She’s called Little Miss Know-It-All behind her back at work, but she means well.

    Comment by Seahawk210 | August 3, 2009

  8. Tina says: Thanks, Seahawk210, for the comment. I sent you an email with some thoughts. Rather than duplicate that here, I’m going to use the ideas for a post about the topic. So, thanks for the inspiration!

    Comment by TLR | August 3, 2009

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