“It’s Better to Give than Receive” and Other Lies
I’ve asked some friends to bring their insights to the Leadership Freak community. Please give a warm welcome to today’s guest writer, Jesse Lyn Stoner.
How many times have you heard, “It’s better to give than receive?” It’s so ingrained in our culture, we don’t even question it.
If you are in a leadership role, chances are you believe this wholeheartedly. Which means you also probably believe you should always be competent, never make mistakes and always be strong. Or that you should only receive when you have something to give in return.
The problem with this attitude is that when you are in a situation where you don’t have a choice and must receive, you are likely to feel
It’s disconcerting because it challenges your self-image.
It’s easier to give than to receive, but not necessarily better.
9 reasons receiving is good
- It reminds you that you’re not in charge
- It keeps you humble
- You allow others the opportunity to feel the pleasure of giving
- You get to experience gratitude
- You develop a realistic self-image
- You create a space for others to shine
- You begin to understand of what strength really is
- You become a more well-rounded person
- Your relationships become richer
It’s true that it is good to give. Here’s are 26 articles that explain why. http://www.helium.com/knowledge/3044-why-its-better-to-give-than-receive
But it’s not always good to give. Giving when people can help themselves takes away their power and opportunity to grow, and keeps them dependent.
What’s important is knowing when to give and when to receive.
There’s a time to give and a time to receive. When it’s your time to receive, just say “thank you.” And allow yourself to feel the pleasure of gratitude that naturally arises when you understand that at times, it’s better to receive than to give.
Jesse Lyn Stoner is a speaker, business consultant and co-author of Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision (Berrett-Koehler, 2011). She can be found on Twitter at @jesselynstoner and she blogs at www.jessestoner.com
I really liked the post! It’s completely true!!! For me it’s so important to create space to others to shine than to know the right moment “to give” and the right moment “to receive”! Everything makes part of our professional and personal development!
I agree with you that giving is not always good philosophy. When people do not need, do not give. We can not give advise to fool, who does not know the values of giving. I always believe in giving to those who need it. Who is desirous, curious and passionate to take. Giving forcefully could be dangerous. If you advise habitual liar or backstabber not to lie or back stab, he or she will not believe it. Instead he will try to let you down.
I believe taking is as good as giving when people appreciate your effort. When they admit your contribution in shaping their career. When they admit about their transformation because of some moments or guidance.
I think, taking is good when our intention is right. At the same time, giving can not dangerous, when our intention is not right. If we give to get something back, then giving is poisonous. Leaders have right intention and when they give, they give with full courage, heart and spirit.
So true, Jesse, and besides it’s just simple math: Every act of giving needs a recipient. Part of collaborating, or interdependence, is living on both ends of the equation. Sometimes the very best thing you can do to help someone grow is to gratefully accept the thing they are able to do for you.
Love the thought that it’s really simple math. Thanks for that, Greg!
Thanks Jesse. I appreciate you challenging my paradigm. Receiving is something that I sometimes struggle with. Have a blessed day!
Thank you. This is why I wrote this post – to challenge the paradigm of those who equate receiving with weakness. And it’s a tribute to my friend Dan, whose accident has created an opportunity for him to truly understand this side of the equation, to support him in keeping the strength to receive.
I never quite looked at the “give/receive” ratio like this before. Thank you for a thought provoking post.
This is amazing! Rings so true for me, & kinda makes me realise that perhaps there really is a difference between being a leadership freak & being a control freak
Ms. Stoner I love your 9 reasons why receiving can be better than giving. I particular like the comments regarding finding one’s humility and providing space for others to shine. Giving and receiving are complementary in my mind. There is an interchange of gifts in both directions every time. The connection that happens ultimately provides happiness to both parties. The bond created removes the temporal occurrence and makes joy the experience to remember. Thank you for giving and sharing your thoughts and allowing us to receive and feel the uplifting sensation of gratitude. 🙂 Cheers!
The mutuality you describe is lovely and rings true. Thanks for highlighting that.
We DO often give too much or unnecessarily. There is a generation of youth out there who think they are “entitled” to have it all. They have this mentality because the grew up “getting”.
Yes, I think we do need to carefully consider when to give and when not to give, to whom and why.
It took me a very long time to be a grateful and graceful receiver. I always had this sense of entitlement that was arrogant. If the gift was advice then I always had this desire to even up. Life isn’t really like that and it was all part of the maturing process for me. Thank you for this insightful post and I will receive it 🙂 Merry Christmas!
There is a big difference between “entitlement” and “graceful receiving.” Thanks for sharing what the shift can look like.
Like almost everything else, it all about “balance”. Knowing when to apply which tool and in what degree. Very little is black and white in leadership or life. The trick is to become a good a “practicing”. Practice what challenges you to change. Practice what your good at to sustain. True in golf, true in live, true in leadership.
Good timing for the message and it is very true. I find it so easy to give, and I have to admit, my pride makes receiving not as fun as it should be for me. I guess I put too much emphasis on “I must get the job done” and in turn do not take full advantage of those that reach out to give me support. This year has sure been a good one for me learning that accepting a gift, is not indicative of weakness on my part!
A great way to enter the holidays, Thabo. And think of all the pleasure you are giving to those who care about you when you receive their gifts with an open heart!
Different cultures in different eras view giving/receiving differently, really is interesting how Western culture has valued giving rather than receiving. There even is a leadership misperception that leaders who don’t know the answer or can’t give the answer are weak…because they are supposed to always give of their wisdom, else why be leaders? In fact, always having the answer or being the perpetual giver, you demotivate, devalue and de-energize your team.
I really like your #6 point Jesse, create a space for others to shine. That is so powerful on so many levels, short term and long term. Those brief moments in the spotlight, whether seen by one or many can create a memory that has staying power and may even create one of those organizational culture stories that last far beyond the moment. Leaders, with intention (and awareness of interpersonal preferences) can create those spaces.
So it may be an interesting paradox, a great gift a leader can ‘give’ is be ready, willing and able to receive!
Well said Doc especially bringing culture into the conversation. Our ethnicity is often lost in the mix. Social expectations need to be learned and studied to maximize the effectiveness of the encounter. It is an interesting paradox as you correctly stated since we are always “giving” and “receiving” and personal perception will dictate how much we feel being the “gif tee” vs, the “gift or” In the end it is the exchange and connection that truly matter,
Yes. To receive with thankfulness is a gift to the giver, as well as to oneself.
Thanks Jesse and Dan for bringing this to us. I am one of those “self-sufficient” guys, in all foolishness I would add. It took my precious wife to instill in me that it is actually OK to receive. I just need to graciously accept help and support from others. It helps the heart, when you open up yourself to the good in others.
Its always better to receive than to take. Most people are “takers”, that’s why it so dificult for them to receive. Takers, take without asking, accept without earning, & don’t appreciate what they have gotten. Receiving, on the other hand, entails asking, earning, & appreciating that which was received.
Happy holiday season.
What about “receiving” coaching, mentoring, constructive criticism, etc. Most “takers” are not able to accept communications that challenge them to change. Many of these people are wonderful “givers” of their opinions and personnel points of view.
I think “taking” comes from an attitude of entitlement. James Benson (above) described his experience of the shift. Thanks for further illuminating this point.
Congratulations for offering such an amazing shift in perspective on the good-old line.
I really like and appreciate the slight alteration made to it by replacing the word ‘Better’ with ‘Easier’. In this age of competition, we need to keep the doors open to receive things to get better and better. This will enrich us and make our giving more richer.
Thank you, Abdul.
Thanks for the post.
The phrase, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” comes from the Bible (Acts 20.35). The apostle Paul attributes the statement to Jesus.
I agree there has to be a healthy understanding of giving and receiving. From a biblical standpoint, you must RECEIVE *before* you can GIVE.
In the verses preceding the statement in Acts 20.35, the apostle Paul says, “nothing, not even my life, is more important than my completing my mission. This is nothing other than the ministry I RECEIVED from the Lord Jesus: to testify about the good news of God’s GRACE.”
Paul is simply giving what he has received. He’s passing it on. Even the concept of grace is about receiving (it’s a gift, an underserved gift).
Receiving is essential, but we’re only “blessed” if we pass it on and share what we’ve received with others.
So Jesus was wrong then?
I think your applications were interesting, but they are not in the traditional understanding of Jesus’ original statement, which should be words to live by for any person. Unfortunately, we live in a society that has flipped it around and believe that it is better to receive than to give.
I don’t see anything in the blog that is anti Jesus or his message. All that was said is there is a time for receiving and a time for giving. Sometimes we do need to receive because what we have to give is not beneficial and other times giving would actual be detrimental. Sometimes being a grateful receiver can keep you grounded and allow you to give of yourself down the road when it is beneficial.
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