‘Givers Gain’ Is a Standard, Not a Sword

Givers Gain® is a philosophy based on the law of reciprocity.  In the context of networking groups, people who adopt this philosophy dedicate themselves to giving business to their fellow networkers rather than making their foremost concern getting business for themselves.  In doing so, other people naturally become eager to repay their kindness by sending them business in return.  Givers Gain is a great way to live life in general and it is a standard which we can all apply to ourselves—key word being “ourselves”; it is not a sword to be pointed at others who may not adopt the philosophy.

Unfortunately, I have seen the Givers Gain concept abused from time to time and, as you may have guessed, the reason I’m writing about it now is because I saw it abused quite recently.  The entire concept gets misused when we start pointing a finger at others and saying things like, “Milton doesn’t have a Givers Gain attitude—he’s going about things all wrong.”  What’s interesting is that when we say things like this about other people, it’s often because they’re not doing something we think they ought to be doing in business or life.

Again, Givers Gain is not a sword to wave around at people who aren’t doing what we think they should be doing.  It is a standard we can apply to ourselves and ourselves only.  Ironically, when we point our index finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at us—it’s a perfect reminder of whose actions and tactics we really need to be worrying about, don’t you think?  Don’t be the person who tends to blame others for their woes instead of focusing on their own behavior.

People who criticize and point fingers at others can be very caustic, which is one of the reasons it is important to be really selective about the people you surround yourself with (especially in the context of networking groups).  That said, there will undoubtedly still be people in our lives who are unendingly critical, judgmental, and just plain vitriolic.  I know I certainly have a couple of them in my life, including one person in particular who appears to have made criticizing me his favorite pastime.  They’re the people who love to talk about you, but who never actually talk to you about issues.

So, what do you do if you practice the Givers Gain philosophy in a sincere and consistent way, yet there is still someone waging a very personal attack on you?  How do you respond when they start waving their interpretation of the Givers Gain concept in your face like a sword of criticism?  The answer is simple—be yourself.  Continue to apply the philosophy to yourself in every way you can.  Vitriolic people are that way because they can’t control themselves.  Maybe they’re basically angry, maybe they’ve had a difficult life—who knows?  It doesn’t really matter because they are who they are and you can’t change them.  As much as we’d all like to steer clear of these people, there will be times when it’s virtually impossible.

Telling someone they’re wrong about you never works (I know this from personal experience); they’ll just come at you even stronger.  I can tell you what does work though.  What really works is when somebody else stands up and says to the person who’s badmouthing you that they’re out of line, or that what they’re saying is simply not appropriate.  It’s a little like a referral—nothing beats a third party endorsement . . . or, in this case, a third party defense.

Why am I bringing all this to light?  Because, the fact is, you are going to find yourself around a vitriolic person at one time or another—someone who’s combative instead of collaborative, someone who’s saying horrible things about someone else—and I want to take this opportunity to strongly encourage you to stand tall and speak up.

Good people stand up when caustic people say bad things about others; and if you practice Givers Gain as your own personal standard, you already know that standing up for others will encourage others to stand up for you.

Do you have a story about an experience with a person who was criticizing you to others or other people to you?  How did you handle it?  I’d love to hear your story, as well as your feedback on this blog post and on the Givers Gain concept in general.  Please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

17 thoughts on “‘Givers Gain’ Is a Standard, Not a Sword

  1. BNI chapters that truly embrace the Givers Gain philosophy are full of people who REALLY want to help each other FIRST. There is harmony. There is joy. They want to share with each other and help others do the same. We have witnessed all of this when it is done with a giving heart that truly blesses others.

  2. Great share Ivan. One month I had a person that came up to me and told me that they needed to speak with me. I said no problem what was it? The person told me that they saw that I had given about 27 referrals the month earlier I said okay. The person then said well I am only going to give you credit for about half of them and I want to explain why before you saw the board. So I asked was there a problem. The person said well you give a lot of referrals in general. I said okay. The person said then only this time you gave about 16 to one person. I said okay, the person then said well I did not see any thanks to you from that person. So I told the person what do you want me to do about that? So then I explained to the person that I had given the referrals to the person that they asked for and that everyone in the chapter had that same opportunity based on the person’s direct request for one type of referral. So I gave that person what they asked for I also did an e-mail introduction with them. I also attached the connections business card on each completed referral slip. Then I reminded the person speaking with me that the person who received those referrals, has been out of the country for the last three weeks. However that several of those referred had replied to the referral connection via e-mails and had made contact with him. The funny part of the story was that another member heard us talking and was upset and then started to tell me about how few referrals that the person that had been speaking with me had given. So I explain to them it was just a miss understanding and that we should all just do the best we can to police and take care that we do our best as we are all part of the same team. The other funny part was that after the meeting to person who got the 16 or so referrals thanked me for them and to thank me for listening. He also wanted to apologized for not getting back to everyone in a timely manner as several had connected them. We learn as we go right. Givers Gain.

  3. Givers gain is predicated on the age old idea of what goes around comes around. But what Givers Gain really means to me is, “Not what’s in it for me, but what is in me for others”.

  4. Dr. Misner, Again, I must say that I am blessed to be a part of Partners in Excellence in the San Diego Area. This group has gone through a change as of late, with members leaving and new members joining. I believe the success PIE has is partly due to the thorough interview process and reference checks that the Membership Committee does with every new member and members who renew their membership. Givers Gain is truly embraced my most of the members and the new members quickly adapt, once the see the level and quality of referrals they receive. I thoroughly enjoy reading your articles, participating in webinars, reading your books as well as SuccessNet. Since January, I have 92 CEUs and I can thank the fact that what you write is so engaging! Thank you, Socorro Alaniz, SurePro Windows & Doors

  5. This is fantastic. My philosophy at networktosuccess.com is that genuine interaction wins over everything else. Networking is not about social climbing or clawing over others to land that big deal or job. You need to meet and engage with people with real purpose and sincerity.

  6. Bonjour Ivan,

    This is a truly serious matter, to be managed immediaetly whenever it happens. Consequences can be really bad for way more people than the first 2 that are part of the play.

    As I’m working with several networking groups, it often happens that someones comes to me to criticize somebody else.

    First of all, I never say anything that might let think that I have a position about what’s been told. That would damage my own reputation, and make me loose the credibility I took years to build.

    Over time, I found the best way to handle this is to remind them:
    “I understand why you are upset, but I don’t have a clue about what’s happening.
    Did you talk directly with this other person?” – Usually, and very sadly, they did not. –
    Well, you should. Because I’m not he right person to talk to about this.
    And in the meantime, may I suggest you something?” – The answer has always been yes! –
    “Please, do NOT talk to anybody else about that!

    If you are facing a serious issue and can’t solve it directly with the other person involved as real business gentlemen (just the two of you, nobody witnessing your conversation), go to the team in charge of managing your networking group and ask for help. They have been trained to handle this kind of situation.

    Rumors start this way, and trust me, this is not going to be good for your reputation.
    Criticizing someone else will NEVER make YOU look good even if you are 100% right!!!

    Just think about this: is it possible that someone else listening to you may think : “oh! If he is capable of saying such bad things about XYZ, I’m wondering what he may say about me when I’m not here? Makes sense?.

    And in a networking group, there’s a real short path from a rumor being spread to clans or worse, badly impacting business.

    So let’s go back to 2 fundamentals. 1st is Givers Gain. This is a philosophy, an attitude that should compell you to use these 5 magic words “How may I help you?”
    Asking this question to the person you mentionned might give you the opportunity to solve quickly whatever is happening”.

    And if he is willing to stop talking about the subject and listen to me (no really, it happens sometimes!), I may give him some hints about how to engage the conversation, expressing in a quiet, responsible non-agressive way what he “feels” and start an open conversation directly with the other person.

  7. Hello Ivan,
    For this issue I fully agree with Thierry. When Members come to me with a kind of complaint about other Members I try to get them connected on the issue.
    Recently one of my Members said to me that the Member in his Chapter, who receives the Blue Badge often, does not give good Referrals. When I asked how he meant that, he told me that more than ones he called the person who he was referred to and this person did not want to proceed the next step.
    I asked him if he shared these ocassions with the Member that gave him the Referrals. He answered No. I told him that if he did not share these experiences this Member never would know and never could do anything about it. I made a 3 Minutes Network Training on this topic, called Feed Back is Givers Gain as well! and I keep telling that Givers Gain is also telling it to the right Person instead of telling it to everyone except the person who should really know.

  8. Oh sword of “Givers Gain” how often have I been stabbed by thee in the hands of my peers.

    I cannot tell you how many times I have found the “Givers Gain” Philosophy turned into a weapon against me by my fellow franchise owners. In the future I am going to be using this article. I recently heard a Director say they were not going to pay because we are a “Givers Gain” Organization and we should be giving to him for free. Others feel that I should speak for free for them because that is “Givers Gain” I am going to remember and use “Givers Gain can only be applied to myself and NOT to others!”

    Thank you Ivan that is my best learning for the day, because I am tired of being beat up with that sword so often!

    Bruised but not Broken

  9. Once you understand the principal “givers gain” and apply it in every day life you will be rewarded in many unexpected ways. Your reputation of willingness to help others without expecting anything in return will create and aura and karma that will follow you wherever you go. Just the feelings you get from it is reward enough, but the saying “what goes around comes around” will follow you.

  10. Ivan, this is timely I am having some issues in one of my chapters that is around this topic. Thank you so much for the continued education and knowledge that you spew on us regularly! I appreciate you

  11. Great post Ivan. I was interviewed for a podcast today on the topic of “great places to work and why”, and I mentioned the fact that in my experience one of the key strengths of BNI as an international organization is the widely accepted adherence to Givers Gain.

  12. We can know that not everyone is going to adopt ‘givers gain’ as that road is narrow
    and few their are that find it. Leading by example vs. looking to follow examples of
    giving takes great faith and fortitude. Many applaud the ‘givers gain’ while envisioning
    themselves gaining while others give. That is the landscape of the wide road while
    authentic givers are on the narrow road. Many wide road travelers pride themselves
    in reading and repeating what the narrow road signs say and lording those truths over
    others. Rise above, take heart continuing to know that ‘givers gain’ always!

  13. Hi Ivan, its really nice blog about the philosophy “Givers Gain”. As you asked about the story, So I would like share one. I am in business from last 3 yrs. Before that I was working as Deputy General Manager in Swedish MNC. I started their my work by cleaning the machine and left the organisation as Deputy General Manager. In my journey at start people use to criticise me, as I got my promotions and salary hikes almost every year. On one day beacuse of this criticisms I was so frustrated but at that moment one elderly employee came to me and told me, “Vinayak remember one thing in life, when people start criticises you, try to understand its means you are on correct track, and are on growing path.” From that day I never turned up and within 7 yrs I became DGM from Helper who cleaned the machines. So one small sentence but taught me a lesson for life.

    Vinayak Bhandari
    Professiongyan Consultancy
    +91 9822311915

    Prosperity Chapter
    Pune East Region

  14. While helping a student buy books for his dental course, the student wanted to know how he could repay me. He was asked to help another needy student whenever he could. This student, even today, is delighted to be in touch. He is a Professor in a college!

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