You want to be a team player, but the more you give, the more folks take– without offering much in return. It’s not that you’re keeping score, but you’ve noticed a pattern, and you know something’s wrong.
You look around and realize that others seem to have more balanced relationships. But there you are, once again, left feeling like a sucker. If this sounds like you or someone you love, read on. Some of the best givers I know get taken. It doesn’t have to be that way.
How to Give Without Getting Taken
- Continue With Generosity – Although this sounds counter-intuitive since that’s what got you into this mess to start with, don’t lose that giving feeling. I’ve seen over-givers swing their defenses too far in the other direction. They put up their guard, and miss the beautiful relationships and productivity that comes from balanced giving and receiving. Don’t keep giving to takers, but stay open to the possibilities the rest of the world has to offer.
- Exude Confident, Humility – Don’t be cocky, but do be confident. Other leaders admire and respect peers who show up strong and open. Showing up weak makes you an easy target for takers. Radiate the same respect for yourself as you give to others.
- Articulate Your Feelings – Over-givers have a tendency to give until it hurts, but not talk about the pain. Resentment secretly builds and sucks out necessary energy. Letting someone take advantage of you weakens leadership– yours and theirs. Teach people how you want to be treated. Usually these conversations have to do with boundaries. It’s not a matter of if you want to help, but when and how much. I’ve seen many cases where people are shocked when an over-giver suddenly erupts with pushed down emotion, after appearing to be “happy to help.”
- Question Your Motives – Without getting to deep into psychology here, if you’re repeating an over-giving pattern, consider what you’re “gaining” from all the giving. Are you a people-pleaser looking for affirmation? Are you feeling insecure about your place on the team? Getting clear on the underlying issues will go a long way toward building more balanced relationships.
- Ask For What You Need – It’s easy to assume that others know what we need and how they can help. Tell your teammates how they can be most helpful to you. Ask for what you need, and don’t be afraid to receive the support. You may be surprised at how relieved your teammates feel when they finally have a concrete way to return the favor.
“Sometimes, teams are moving so fast and are so focused on results, they don’t take time to talk as a team about what’s happening,” says leadership expert Karin Hurt, author of the blog Let’s Grow Leaders. If no one is articulating their feelings and everything seems to be going great, says Hurt, negative patterns get embedded and can be hard to reverse.”~ Karin Hurt, Founder of Lets Grow Leaders