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!