As the old adage goes, it’s better to give than to receive. And, the best networking advice I’ve ever given (or received) is to give first and then give some more. With all that giving going on, it’s also important to know how and when it’s time to receive.
I recently asked a group of managers, “Is it more difficult for you to give or to receive?” and “What percentage of your time is spent giving versus receiving?” The overwhelming consensus was that it’s harder to receive than to give, and most felt that they give far more than they receive.
“RECEIVING–until recently I was very uncomfortable asking for help and letting others see my vulnerabilities.”
“Probably it is more difficult to receive. Sometimes I expect that a person would do something for me since I would do the same thing for him/her if asked, but often it does not happen.”
“At work, I always feel the need to prove myself so I always give, give give (85% give, 15% receive).”
“When someone does something nice for me, I feel like I need to immediately pay back that debt and feel uncomfortable when I have received more than I have given.”
Part of the gift of giving is to give in a way that supports receiving.
4 Ways to Give So They Will Receive
1. Give and Forget
In 20 Ways to Give Without Expectations, Lori Deschene lists great examples of how to give help and support with no expectations in return. Such self-less giving can go a long way in opening hearts to receiving.
2. Model it
“Giving opens the way for receiving.” -Florence Scovel Shinn
If you’re an over-giver, lead by example. Be willing to ask for and receive support.
3. Respond Enthusiastically
If someone asks for help, know that it’s likely not easy for them to do so. Say “yes” or “no,” but don’t say “yes” after listing the litany of reasons why it’s hard for you. That just adds to the guilt. Words such as “I’d be honored,” “Happy to,” or “Sure, glad I can support you” don’t make the task you’re doing any more difficult.
4. Ask What Will Be Most Helpful
Just jumping in and giving can be a waste of time at best and potentially do more harm than good. Ask what you can give that will be most helpful.
The truth is the world functions best when we know how to (and are willing to) both give and receive. Where can you be giving or receiving more?