Giving Is Easy. It's Receiving That’s Hard.

Written by Mark ShaylerFuture You

Givers get lucky. So true. We themed last year’s Do Lectures thus.

Giving is beautiful. The more you give the luckier you get. Some may call it karma. I won’t argue with that, I’m a big believer in karma. I compare it to frying an aubergine. You slice the aubergine. Pop it in a pan. Add oil. The aubergine soaks up the oil. You add more. It soaks that up too. You add more, wondering if there is ever going to be an end to the amount of oil this bloody aubergine will absorb. Then it happens all at once. The oil starts coming out. But this time it’s better as it tastes of aubergine. The same is true of giving support, of showing kindness, of helping others. It can sometimes feel like it’s a one-way street, but then stuff comes back. The karma bank begins to pay out.

But that’s not what this blog is about (but it kind of is). What I wanted to write about was receiving. Accepting compliments, support, advice, whatever. We are famously bad at it. Think about it. When someone compliments you how many times do you rebuff it?

“Oh this old thing, I just found it in the wardrobe”

“The time I spent helping you? It’s nothing, I was in town anyway”

“Oh the presentation that changed your life? It was nothing”

I hear this all the time. Deflecting praise. Refusing thanks.

But receiving is the other half of the giving deal. Rebuffing is rude. It devalues both what you have given and the value it had to the person you gave it to.

Giving is easy. You don’t have to look at yourself, to analyse your own needs when you give. When you give you’re the alpha, the helper. Ironically this is in itself a need. Addiction to giving is a thing. Addiction to giving masks other things and is as much about ego as it is altruism. It deflects attention from yourself, from understanding what you need. From looking at yourself.

Sometimes you need a better mirror and to look into it longer.

Learning to receive is important. Not to remove the addiction of giving but to understand why you gave and importance to others rather than just to yourself. Learning to receive is about:

  • Learning to listen. I mean really listen. Listen to the person thanking/complimenting you and listening to yourself.
  • Learning to value yourself and your gifts.
  • Understanding that you are more than the good things that you do.
  • Moving beyond your view of yourself and seeing what others see.
  • Redefining what we think of ourselves.

Until we learn to receive we never truly give. It is a two-way thing. To know how to give well we need to know how to receive well. There are two roles here and it is important to understand both of them from experience.

Benevolence is not enough.

Givers get lucky but only if they’re open to receiving.

Written by
Mark Shayler
Eco-design and Environmental Stuff
Thinker. Doer. Creator. Speaker. Author. Mark Shayler helps big companies think small and small companies think big. Making stuff better and making better stuff. He runs an innovation and environmental consultancy called Ape, where he helps businesses to develop new products and services – and in the process, save them shed loads (technical term) of carbon and (to date) over £100 million. He's a public speaker (quite funny), trainer, a foundin...

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