Are people generous because they are successful or are they successful because they are generous? I’m not just talking about money. I know a couple ladies who always send thank you cards, or thinking of you cards, or a call just to say hi. No matter what my mood is, when I see them or talk to them I leave the interaction way better spirited than when I entered. How can this be so easy for some people and hard for others?
I had a friend in college who always said, “I’m not going to kiss that teacher’s ass just to get a grade.” I finally told him to look at it like you are being nice to him to maybe help use him to give a good grade. He thought that was great and from that day forward he did it. My friend ended up getting an A in the class, but the more interesting thing was he and the teacher ended up friends. Weird.
Have you ever signed up for something and then received a notice promising if you share with your friends you will get 10% off? Does that feel slimy? Or is that just business? Or is it something that is good for you and your friend? I saw one I liked recently. When you signed up it said, “Thank you for signing up. Here’s a second item of what you purchased for you to share with a friend for free.” Isn’t that a better feeling? Not only can you give freely, but you receive less (no 10% discount).
Have you ever noticed that everyone feeds horses carrots that have been washed? I don’t think it matters to the horse if the carrot just came out of the ground and still has dirt on it, or if you buy the bag of washed baby carrots. Washed carrots don’t make the horse happier; the washed carrots make us feel better… giving us a little more than expected.
Christmas is almost here and the TV is full of ads to buy this, or discount this, or rebate that, or no payments if you put it on the in-store charge card (an entirely different blog – maybe related though). No matter how it is said, ads always seem smarmy even when the deal is great. Why?
I think the connection is lost when it’s a zero-sum game. $20 for a Starbucks coffee is a done deal. You got yours and I got mine. But when it’s $20 for a Starbucks coffee and by the way here are four more coffees for whomever you want to give them to – now we feel connected to Starbucks and we feel great for giving our friends something.
You may think I’m rambling, but my point is that it shouldn’t be about the return, it’s about paying it forward. The key to this is remembering the ladies in the beginning. Give a card, give a smile, or pay for the person’s food behind you in a drive through. It will make you feel better than if someone did it for you.