By Kapil Kakar
Empowering others is a fascinating way of adding value to other people's lives and one's own at the same time. While the other person benefits in terms of confidence, you benefit by expanding your network and by gaining an ally.
Empowering is all about giving choices and not dominating or imposing your beliefs on others. It helps to be tactful to guide the other person to a conclusion which he feels he's arrived at by his own volition with minimal assistance from you. Empowering others is not about advising. Giving advice is based on the assumption that you know more or are superior in some way to the other person. It is counter productive if you run the risk of hurting the other person's ego in which case he/she is least likely to follow your advice. The other person should feel as if he/she has a choice in the matter and not because there is no other recourse.
To empower means to help the person develop his own creativity and problem solving ability rather than create a dependency on any other person. Ask lots of open ended questions. Questions like "Why do you think so?" "What do you think can happen?" allow the other person to vent and create an instant bond of understanding. Answers to such questions allow the other person to clarify his own thoughts and often provide solutions. It's important to note that the questions need to be pertinent. More relevant questions will naturally follow as the conversation progresses. After the discussion has thrown up viable courses of action then suggest alternatives by posing questions to the other person rather than telling him what you think should be done. For example, "Do you think we can do it this way?" "Should we implement this?" and so forth. This makes the other person feel that it is he/she who is making the decisions and choosing his/her own path. Once you learn the art of empowering others it forms the basis of long lasting personal and professional relationships.