If you saw your colleague struggling with a mammoth project or panicking before a big meeting what would you do?
You like to think you would do the right thing and help them out, right? Maybe offer your advice or give some suggestions on how to fix the situation.
But apparently offering unsolicited advice in the workplace can actually lead to a toxic environment.
New research published by University of Michigan researchers in the Journal of Applied Psychology examined how employees feel when they receive a helping hand from their colleagues.
For the study, the scientists surveyed over 700 people to decipher how grateful the recipients felt about receiving help.
Interestingly they found that people who were given assistance without asking for it felt their self-esteem and job security drop.
“Right now, there’s a lot of stress on productivity in the workplace, and to be a real go-getter and help everyone around you,” said study author Russell Johnson in a news release. “But, it’s not necessarily the best thing when you go out looking for problems and spending time trying to fix them.”
The author goes on to explain that when people give help without being asked, “They often don’t have a clear understanding of recipients’ problems and issues, thus they receive less gratitude for it.”
In summary, unsolicited help can lower self-esteem in the receiver and create a toxic workplace for the giver.
So, what’s the best thing to do if you see a colleague struggling?
In a nutshell, mind your own business. If your coworker really needs some help they will ask you. All you can do is remain friendly, open and available if someone does happen to stop by your desk with a question.