Giving and Receiving

Giving and receiving are supposed to flow and create a good experience. But it’s not always that way. Sometimes receiving feels icky, and sometimes giving feels icky too. Giving and receiving are two sides of the same interaction, and it should be a good experience for both.

Just for a point of clarification, giving and receiving is not exactly the same thing as entering into a transaction. When you buy something from the store, there is an exchange. It’s not giving and receiving. A different set of dynamics would apply to make it a great transaction.


Giving can be a great experience. Yet sometimes giving is not great. Giving is not great when:

  • We hurt ourself in the giving.
  • We do for the receiver what they should be doing them self
  • It creates collateral damage to others
  • The giving comes loaded with expectations
  • The giving is entwined with negative messages
  • It’s forced upon the receiver

Note that these principles don’t just apply to giving physical things. They apply to giving a service, or a word (encouragement or compliment, for example). The same dynamics will apply to any type of giving and receiving.

Watch out for what happens beyond just this moment of giving and receiving. Is it harming your ability to give in the future? Is it keeping the receiver dependent on your generosity? There is more at stake than just what is happening in the current moment.

Also watch out for loaded giving. Are you expecting they’ll do something specific with your gift? Are you giving with expectations you’ll get something in return? Does the giving come with messages to receiver (for example, that they are incapable)?


Receiving can also be a not so great experience. A receiver can have expectations around what the giver should be doing. They can become upset or disappointed if the giver doesn’t give enough, doesn’t give the right way, or doesn’t give at all.

I’ve seen some folks feel like they deserve something, so they take it without the giver’s consent. This too is not great receiving.

When It’s Great

Giving and receiving are great when

  • The giver gives joyfully and from desire to give
  • The giver gives thoughtfully according to the receivers desire or need
  • There are no strings attached
  • The giver is not giving from a needy place
  • The receiver doesn’t have specific expectations around what is given
  • The receiver receives in the same spirit it was given

When giving and receiving are great, both the giver and the receiver feel good about it. The receiver is happy with what they received and the giver is happy to have given.

You can get more on this topic from our latest radio show/podcast here.



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