Over the last few weeks, in a number of different places on social media, I’ve seen conversations about the value of “giving”. It’s long been a topic in the professional speaking community, amongst coaches, mentors and consultants, and in other knowledge based professions.
Clearly, there is a distinction between unconditional and conditional giving. Yet many of those commenting, either in support of a strategy of generosity, or in support of a commercial approach, fail to make that distinction.
For some sharing with others is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. They are looking to get, at some point, and the implication is ‘soon’, something back for their generosity. That’s often because for most people, the receiving of a gift creates an obligation and a sense of I need to “return the favour”. It is how Robert Cialdini identifies “reciprocity” in his book “influence.”
Is generosity always about reciprocity? I don’t think so, not even when the context is commercial.
I have always chosen to be generous with my knowledge. One way or another, I’ve built up a significant bank of knowledge. I’ve also developed a number of well honed skills and lots of experience along the way. It is the combination of the three things (knowledge, skill and experience) that allows me to bring value to my clients.
Knowledge comes because I’m both critical and curious. I find spending time with others, even those I don’t know, to be valuable in allowing me to explore and expand what I do know. For me there is value received from the act of giving itself, and as they say, a fair exchange is no robbery. I’m definitely not seeking to creating a bank of favours I can “call in”. Anyway, my knowledge is something that isn’t unique to me. It is available to anyone who undertakes the right research and learning. That’s why I give my knowledge unconditionally.
My skills and experience though are different. Those are shared conditionally, either in exchange for money, or for other (genuine) value for me. They have been hard won in a career spanning a lifetime. They are brought to bear for my clients and for their benefit. Applied so that they can unlock sustainable profits & avoid costly mistakes. When we work together you benefit from the skills and experience that I bring to you and your business, my knowledge comes along for free.