I’d like to think that most of my friends are helpful, but some are more helpful than others.
For example, while most of my friends will give me five minutes for me to ask a few questions or to run an idea by them, I only have one who’ll check on my cat for me when I’m visiting family over Christmas.
There’s a big difference between the average person, who’ll help people out of a sense of duty, and the kind of people who genuinely enjoy helping other people.
In fact, I can think of at least 8 differences. Let’s take a look at them.
1) They show empathy
Empathy is probably the most important factor that goes into whether someone genuinely enjoys helping others.
That’s because it’s this empathy that gives them that enjoyment. Empathetic people share in other people’s happiness, but they also feel their pain and misery. It’s kind of like a real life superpower.
But because they share other people’s emotions and have a good understanding of what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes, they’re much more likely to enjoy helping people. They understand how much of a difference that help can make.
And then when they see someone doing better in life because of the help they’ve provided, they get a huge kick out of it.
2) They’re generous
If you want to help other people, you need to be generous.
This might mean being generous with money, as is the case when you’re providing someone with financial help, but it might also mean being generous with your time.
For example, when a friend asks you to help them move house, it won’t cost you a penny but will take a decent time investment. The same is true if you volunteer for a local charitable organization.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not the kind of guy who hands over his time or his money unless there’s a good reason for it. You can bet that if I’m displaying my generosity to someone, it’s either because I like the person or because I enjoy doing the favor that they’ve asked me for.
3) They volunteer for charities
Speaking of being generous with time, if someone volunteers for charity then it’s a decent sign that they like helping others.
You can also learn a lot about someone based upon the kinds of charity that they volunteer for. For example, I used to help out at my local arts center because I’m all about literature, music and the arts.
I’d argue that volunteering for charity is even more selfless than donating money, because time is a resource that we only have a limited amount of. If someone’s willing to spend their time helping others, it’s a sure sign that they like helping them.
This is doubly true if they don’t make a big deal of it, because it shows they’re doing it because they want to and not for any clout.
4) They practice active listening
Active listening is a form of listening in which we try to encourage people to open up and keep talking by asking them questions.
That’s the simple definition, but it’s good enough to show why people who genuinely enjoy helping others tend to be good at it. It calls for you to go out of your way to listen to and process what people are saying, instead of just waiting for your turn to speak.
Most of us treat conversations as a sort of negotiation in which we listen to the other person for a while and then we decide it’s our turn to be listened to. Often, we’re deciding what we’re going to say next while the other person is talking.
That’s not the case for active listeners, though. They devote themselves wholeheartedly to listening to what the other person is saying.
5) They don’t judge
People who genuinely enjoy helping others don’t judge them. If they did, they wouldn’t help them.
For example, it’s easy to turn your nose up at a homeless person who’s asking for money and to tell yourself, “They’re just going to spend it on drugs.” Someone who genuinely enjoys helping others wouldn’t have that thought and would instead ask themselves what they can do to help.
In fact, this lack of judgement is often why people accept their help in the first place. We’ve all been in situations where we know that we should ask for help but we feel too embarrassed to do so. The people who genuinely enjoy helping will spot that you need help and go out of their way to offer it.
And they won’t take no for an answer.
6) They perform random acts of kindness
Random acts of kindness have been around for millennia, but they’ve recently become something of a trend.
The clue is in the name, here. You do something nice for someone, whether you know them or not. You might offer to pay for someone’s groceries at the store or go out of your way to pay people compliments.
Some people perform these acts of kindness so they can film them for their TikTok account or so they can boast about what they did to their friends. That’s not so for the people who enjoy helping others. They just do it because they want to help people.
The warm glow that they get from doing something nice is just an added bonus.
7) They celebrate others’ accomplishments
People who enjoy helping others have a natural desire to see other people doing well.
Because of this, they’ll help other people to celebrate their achievements and will be their biggest cheerleaders, even when they’re in competition with them.
For example, I’m a huge snooker nerd, and I always love to watch the opposition when players score a 147 break, the highest that’s possible in a frame. Their opponents are almost as keen as the players themselves to see the final ball go down.
Now, I’m not saying that snooker players are more likely to enjoy helping others, because I doubt that they are. But I do think that it shows a certain spirit that those who enjoy helping others are likely to embody.
They want people to do well, and when that happens, they’re happy for them.
8) They mentor
Mentoring is a great way for people to give back to their community, and it’s no surprise that people who enjoy helping others are more than willing to share their time and expertise with the next generation.
We see this often amongst businessmen and entrepreneurs, but that’s not always motivated by the sincere desire to help people. What we don’t often hear about are the everyday mentors, the people working normal jobs who help newbies out because they like to help and not because they’ve been told to.
Some mentors also charge people for their time. That might seem reasonable in a world in which time is money and people often charge per hour or per day, but it’s against the spirit of this article.
In other words, if a mentor is taking money from people in exchange for being their mentor, they’re not doing it because they enjoy helping people.
Most of us display at least a couple of these behaviors, and there are some that we display at some times and not at others. For example, I’m an introvert, so while I like spending time with my friends, I also definitely need my alone time.
What marks us “normies” apart from the people who go out of their way to help others is that they consistently display all ten of these behaviors, and they’ll help people out even on a bad day. On a good day, they’re practically superhuman.
The thing to bear in mind is that this desire to help people is a character trait, and it’s not one that we can fake. In other words, you either genuinely enjoy helping others or you don’t. You can’t really teach yourself to do so.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help people anyway.