Reflections from a Reluctant Receiver

This guest blog post by Julie Winkle Giulioni celebrates the September 18 launch of her book with Beverly Kaye, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want.  Julie has spent the past 25 years improving performance through learning. She consults with organizations to develop and deploy innovative instructional designs and training worldwide. You can learn more about Julie’s consulting, speaking, and blog at juliewinklegiulioni.com.

I have totally internalized those early messages about how ‘it’s always better to give than to receive.’ Perhaps too much. My anxiety starts creeping up when I realize that I’ve been to someone’s house for dinner twice in a row without reciprocating in between. I can’t receive a compliment without wanting to share one in return. And accepting gifts… don’t even get me started!

So, imagine my stress during the launch of my book as generous bloggers and other online leaders like Susan started offering their help and support. Guest blog post opportunities, book reviews, introductions, and referrals started flowing in. People were amazing. And I was clearly on the receiving end to a degree I’d never experienced.

In an effort to return balance to my world, I tried to figure out how to reciprocate… what I could do to for them. Nobody was budging. They really didn’t want anything in return. I pressed and someone finally offered these words of wisdom: “What you can do is just accept the help and say ‘thank you’.”

That simple advice caused me to think deeply about my patterns (which I know others share) and come up with three reasons we all should relax into receiving.

  1. The universe innately creates balance. We don’t need to fret and force it. When we approach life with a spirit of generosity, everything evens out over the long-haul. It’s a bit like the ocean. At any moment in time, the waves are coming in or going out. But, we don’t focus on or worry about where the water is at the moment – or whether it’s the same drops coming and going. We trust the constant, effortless flow back and forth. Similarly, opportunities will present themselves for giving and receiving in equal measure over time.
  2. There’s pleasure in giving. Here’s where the axiom comes in. Most human beings truly do experience a genuine sense of pleasure as a result of giving. It’s hard not to smile when doing a good deed, offering your help, or even sharing a compliment. But, too frequently we diminish the pleasure others may derive with our ‘receiving-averse’ reactions. How fun is it to compliment someone who proceeds to tell you that you’re wrong, the dress is old, or they’ve actually gained rather than lost weight? When we can relax and accept graciously, we enable greater satisfaction and pleasure for the giver.
  3. Appreciation is powerful.  The research is in and it confirms that appreciation is one of the most constructive emotions around… with the power to improve health, combat depression, contribute to happiness, and more. No wonder it’s something that so many of us crave… but don’t ever seem to get enough of. Expressing sincere appreciation benefits both the giver and receiver. As you both soak up the beneficial effects, you’ll notice that appreciation begets appreciation – making appreciative receiving a gift in itself.

So, let me close with what I think I’ve learned.  Thank you!  (How did I do?)

What about you? What makes you reluctant to receive? How do you relax into receiving?


Enter A Comment

Julie Winkle Giulioni   |   23 October 2012   |   Reply

Thank you, Susan, for the opportunity to connect with your community here. It’s an honor and pleasure!

Susan Mazza   |   24 October 2012   |   Reply

Hi Julie, my pleasure to host you here!

Jerry Hingle   |   26 October 2012   |   Reply

Very insightful, Susan. I especially like your third point. Appreciation is very powerful, and often times, it’s the one thing people are looking to receive back.

Susan M. Featro   |   26 October 2012   |   Reply

You’ve learned a lot, and you’ve shared this with us so beautifully, Julie. Please receive my affirmation and thanks. Are you familiar with this quote from Kahlil Gibran? It supports your great message.

“Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,
And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

Julie Winkle Giulioni   |   27 October 2012   |   Reply

Thank you, Susan, for your lovely comment and this powerful quote. It will go under the glass on my desk as a constant reminder of the ‘need’ and ‘ecstasy’!