We're huge fans of the Bob Burg and John David Mann’s Go-Giver series. If you haven’t read these little, powerful books, I highly recommend you do. If you’re in sales or leadership, these books will change the way you think about your interactions. We had the privilege of interviewing Bob Burg about the laws of the Go-Giver, and you can find the interview here if you want to check it out.

I feel strongly about all five laws—that they are relevant and critical to business and human interaction in general.

One of the five laws provides me with some angst, though.

Go-Giver Law 5 – Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving

It’s pretty simple – let other people do nice things for you. Anything from a gift to an act of service, an introduction, or a compliment. When someone does something nice, and we graciously accept it, we embrace the Law of Receptivity.

Relationships that include both giving and taking are enhanced and strengthened by reciprocity. This industry is dependent on relationships, and we can’t afford for them to go south. Instead, we need to put emphasis on keeping them strong. And strength comes from both giving AND receiving.

We’re such a group of givers in the employee benefits ecosystem – the industry is built on caring about others. And this caring message is reinforced each time we work with a company to define their purpose because nearly ALL of the conversations start with a gut reaction: “We’re here to help people!”

But often a giving spirit is also accompanied by a closed-off mindset to receiving, yet as Burg and Mann tell us, “the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.”

I can’t begin to count the number of people who have said things to me like:

  • “I don’t like compliments. They make me uncomfortable.”
  • “No, it’s not necessary to help me; I can do it on my own.”

Or it may be a flat-out rejection of receptivity from people who give, give, give but will not receive in return.

But WHY??

Why are we so uncomfortable allowing other people to be kind and helpful to us – strangers or friends?

A common reaction to receiving a compliment is too often a painful display of obvious discomfort and saying it’s not necessary or the receiver is not deserving. But in trying to push away the discomfort, it takes away the value from both the giver and the receiver that was intended with the compliment. And I have to wonder if the rejection in some way fuels a sense of unworthiness by refusing to receive? 🤔

Here’s the advice part

If you’re uncomfortable with a compliment or an act of kindness, practice just smiling and saying, “Thank you.” Nothing more complicated is needed beyond that. Don’t explain it away. Don’t downplay your part. Don’t offer self-deprecating humor. Just accept the kindness of another person.

In doing so, you’ve given someone the opportunity to express their appreciation. You’ve given them a gift in return.

It may surprise the stoics among us to hear this, but it’s pretty insulting to have your nice words and kind actions rejected. A relationship is defined as connecting or binding participants; kinship. And if both parties can’t participate where each gets to contribute, then it’s simply a transactional situation, regardless of what the rejecting party claims it to be.

And how can you drive connection and loyalty based on a transaction? In employee benefits, we’re all in the business of giving. Which means we must also be in the business of receiving.

Be a selfless giver

In The Go-Giver, our character, Joe, explains his recognition of this law, “All the giving in the world won’t bring success, won’t create the results you want unless you also make yourself willing and able to receive in like measure. Because if you don’t let yourself receive, you’re refusing the gifts of others – and you shut down the flow.”

I didn’t know it as The Law of Receptivity until I read The Go-Giver, but I have always struggled with this rejection of kindness. I’m very open with my appreciation, and I’ve received a lot of refusals and brush-offs of my compliments and offers to help. And unfortunately, I’ve developed some poor behaviors of NOT wanting to give because too often, giving has = rejection.

I hope that a little attention on this can help our masses of selfless givers become a little more open to selfless receiving. The appreciation of a little kindness is a gift in itself. 🎁

Photo by caymia.