Helping others to help yourself

One of the wonderful benefits of working at Devon Business & Education Centre is the wide variety of visitors we see each month. Some are young people and parents engaged in tutoring, others run small or growing businesses or are part of larger organisations that are hiring space for meetings or being trained over the day.  Their aims of being there are wide ranging and we occasionally make the mistake of assuming they are there for one purpose only to discover that they are there for entirely another. “No, I’m not here to hotdesk, I wanted to discuss a training programme I’d like to run here….”. 

These conversations are not really that awkward as we always want to know more than the basics about what makes people tick and why they have come to our Centre.  We hear lots of stories from parents, owners, employees, entrepreneurs, and local residents that open up our minds to their worlds and gives us some insights into their day to day lives.  All are very different and all our visitors are wrestling with a complex world where there are more pressures than ever and more perceived difficulties to overcome.

We are blessed with our quiet spaces to reflect and often we find that our visitors want to talk through what is going on in their world.  Listening is a privilege and if we can find a helpful insight or thought, we are delighted to help.  In the small way that we can help others by just being there, listening, asking questions, helping them reflect, we also benefit enormously in a wide range of ways:

  • Enriching our insights.  In a fast moving world, it would be easy to assume that what was true a few months ago is true now.  In listening to others'  perspectives, you can acquire a richer and more accurate insight into the context that we all live in, are educated in, and work in.
  • Building our skills.  The skills we need to develop - listening, asking questions, helping others to reflect - are essential tools in our specific businesses (tutoring and business coaching) but are also core tools in life.  Asking better questions, being better listeners and engaging more effectively are marketable skills for leaders and managers and core capabilities for any parent or carer.
  • Creating a wider ecosystem. Understanding the broader person - the parent who is also an engineer, who is also a pilot, who is also dyslexic, who is also the youngest of 6, who also runs the local business forum – builds a colourful insight that helps us build useful connections.
  • Strengthening our brand.  Whilst it’s great to have a venue that people enjoy visiting, it’s better to have one where people know they can talk openly and confidentially to people who will be patient and empathetic and who might even be able to help…
  • Helping us develop our offering. Listening carefully to what people care about can be useful in helping us to adapt our offer, making it valued more across our community.


In a time when we are all so busy, it could be tempting to stop doing anything but the core job – “what you are paid to do”. This, in our eyes, is a zero sum game – which results in none of the unexpected benefits of a casual conversation. We would suggest the opposite.  Structure your day around the opportunities for a chance encounter, and in so doing, it could help you to build a more sustainable and successful business.

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