I’ve found myself asking people this question more often lately.
“How can I help?” acknowledges that every interaction (a sales call, an introductory lunch, a brainstorm, a request for an informational interview) involves (at least) two people who could create something of value for each other. It’s not a one-way street, ever.
“How can I help?” recognizes that, as a boss, my job is to empower others and remove barriers; that I work for me team and not the other way around.
“How can I help?” is often the best thing to say when someone is frustrated or angry or unhappy with the service they received or the response they heard. (and it’s about a million times better than “let me explain.”)
And “How can I help?” is about leading with generosity.
I only wish I had started asking it sooner.