Most people I’ve met have a genuine and generous desire to help.
Not all of them are successful in their endeavor.
The ones who fail most often, are those who have a precise idea of what the other should do. The two main reasons I’ve noticed are “for” or “against”. In an against-situation, the help is delivered describing what the person is doing as not functional with a suggestion to do the opposite. In a for-situation, the person helping is thinking and maybe even doing instead of the person being helped.
No doubt, there are situations in which both approaches work and may even be useful. Your best guess is, that these situations are limited and depend on special circumstances.
Those who succeed most often take a different approach. For them, help is something that needs to be done with the person being helped. This approach might also fail, most often that’s when the person has not seen that the “with” needs to be earned. The intention to help and be helpful is not sufficient.
Helping others starts with the ability to agree on the help that will be provided. It requires understanding the problem that needs to be addressed. It needs a conversation on what solutions will be considered useful. And it asks of both, the one helping and the one being helped, to agree that they’ll do that work together.
It’s the basic principle business is built upon.
When things seem to be less formal this principle is easily forgotten.
Such situations open the door to assumed authority. They create space for the ego to step in with its desires and needs. And most importantly they shift the focus away from helping to satisfaction.