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Don’t Inadvertently Support Others in Becoming Seasoned Takers

Help others to become more helpful for each other  — thus building collective self-esteem and opportunity. I’m sure that you’ve feel that heady, immediate, hedonic high when someone sought your advice, used it and experienced a turnaround, breakthrough or other benefit. Yet your well-intentioned giving can have contaminating, unintended consequences.

Those who continue to ask for and get help from you, without giving back at all over time, are likely to become takers – not just with you but also with others. That’s because they became habituated to taking from you. Worse yet, the longer you let it happen the more affronted they will be when you finally point out that you would prefer a relationship that is more mutually supportive.

Here are some organizational models that can spur a natural balance and flow of giving and receiving between you and others:

teamof teamsgesEmulate The Structure of Strong Teams

Whenever a team or organizational culture explicitly recognizes and rewards individual giving to the group, individuals seem to become more frequent and adept givers, as in these examples:

  • Gore-Tex and Saddleback Church are frequently cited as examples of the connective, giving power of small, strong, interconnected teams or groups within a larger organization. That’s why Gore can justify citing this core truth as their credo: “A unique, nonhierarchical culture fosters the innovative spirit of individuals and small teams.” Small groups
  • As different as this company and church are, in many ways, they share the core value that being part of a purpose-driven small group that interacts with other small groups within the organization boosts fresh thinking, and a feeling of belonging. Some call this approach networked teams.
  • The specific rules of engagement of how Quantified Self members share self-monitoring experiments in their Meetups has enabled that self-organized group to scale global participation and innovation so rapidly and well that several universities and companies have sought them out as research partners.networked teams
  • Other kinds of groups with explicit norms and rules to reinforce mutuality of benefits tend to spur greater sharing. They include Mastermind groups of peers and groups led by an expert, such as Vistage groups.
  • Mutual support communities thrive when they are centered around a strongly felt shared interest, buttressed by explicit rules of engagement they all endorse. Consider for example, how specifically structured certain special interest groups as diverse as Silicon Guild, and the 12-step program thrive because of the loyalty members feel for each other and the strong sense of shared mission.
  • Mutuality matterses
  • That’s when participants will generously give apt advice and other help, not seeking a quid pro quo but knowing there will be an ebb and flow of mutual support over time.
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