Today's guest post is a conversation about accepting compliments which I had with Karen Lynn Ragsdale and a handful of others, wherein she presented what was, to me, a challenging idea about giving.
Karen Lynn knows a lot about how intent affects trust.
So here's the thing about gifts...you have to give 'em up. Ya know? like totally let loose of 'em so they can become a gift.
Just cause some seeds don't sprout, doesn't mean I didn't plant. A lot of compliments sprout long after the moment of exchange, when we aren't around. Oh sure they may say, "Oh, it was nothing" But later they mention the compliment in a conversation or note it in a journal or incubate it in their thoughts where it grows in value. (they opened my gift later in private)
Point is: I don't always get to witness the 'return on influence' or reap benefit for myself. and if I gave it away clean then there's no problem with whatever response there is.
Giving gifts to get gifts can be tricky business. It often fertilizes disappointment which can fuel our lizard brain into commentary about how its better to keep our head down, don't give or give more strategically.
Yes, compliments are best experienced as an equatable exchange of value. But I'm not sure gifts or giving work like that. At least not with a clean give.
Karen, that's a really challenging concept, truly 'giving up' the gift. It's almost certainly because I struggle with that level of unselfish generosity. My anti-compass kicked in hard when I read your comment; it screamed "no no no wrong wrong wrong" and then when I started breathing again I thought perhaps I should ask myself why I had such an immediate visceral reaction to something so unselfish.
So, I'm asking myself, and I'm not sure, yet, what the answer is. I just know that reading your comment made me respect and like you more than I already did; the attitude seems, I don't know, honorable. Something like that.
I aspire to understand; perhaps, even to emulate.
A clean give. What a packed phrase. Wow.
Wow indeed Joel. I felt your honesty as an actual warmth spot in the heart area of my body, seriously. I thought what in the heck is that? Then I breathed, humbly accepting that this is true about me and about giving so...Thank you. I'm so grateful to share this little truth with you.
My mama first shared it with me years ago when I was fussin' over how my sister was in a take take take relationship with me and complaining about feeling taken advantage of and giving more than I got back. He her strong southern mama tone she said "Karen, I don't think you're giving anything 'cause giving just don't feel like that." I was shocked and appalled, immediately launching into a rant that listed all the giving I had been doing which she listened to for a minute then stopped with this suggestion "if you want to feel really good about giving, learn to give clean or say no. the next time your sister wants something or you want to give something to her or help her in some way, pause first. Go inside and ask yourself 'if nothing comes back to me am I still ok with giving this' if the answer is yes then give and if it is no then don't. You are responsible for the advantage people take because you attach a hidden clause on all your giving. That's not giving darlin' that's manipulation and its not working with your sister."
Truth is I didn't really get it that day. I walked away feeling kinda the way you explained above Joel (plus I had a vested interest in proving what a giver I was and what a taker my sister was, giving that up wouldn't be easy). But I trusted her and wanted to feel better so I indeed started doing exactly what she suggested.
I was amazed to find a web of 'hidden clauses' I attached to almost everything I did around giving and helping others. Following her prescription, this compelled me to start saying no which I had never really done before and no didn't feel good at all. But just as she suspected, my giving began to transform. I learned to Give Clean.
A clean give is harder to give and highly suspect in our world. I remember some talk in the beginning here in triiibes about the hidden agenda Seth must have in bringing us all together. What is he getting out of this deal – are we being used somehow for his benefit?
That same suspicion colors the exchange of compliments sometimes. But I found that the cleaner I give 'em the better I feel and the more authentic they fall into the experience with the other person. I still find myself attaching hidden clauses and secret agendas in my giving and when I do, I try to decide not to give ~ that is still the hard part.