“Givers Gain” is a philosophy based on the law of reciprocity. It’s a great standard to apply to ourselves. But it shouldn’t be used to judge others. Accusing others of not having a Givers Gain attitude usually means those people are not doing something you want. This kind of criticism and judgement can be very destructive to relationships. That’s part of why BNI groups need to be very selective about the attitude of the people they ask to join.
If you find yourself under attack by one of these vitriolic people, the best response is to be yourself. The most effective response is for someone else to tell the caustic person s/he is wrong. Standing up for others will encourage others to stand up for you–and that, too, is an example of Givers Gain.
If you aren’t getting as many referrals from a fellow member as you’re giving, don’t point fingers. Evaluate quality as well as quantity of referrals, and remember that what you give will come back to you from the chapter as a whole, not just the individual.
Do you have a story about dealing with an unreasonably critical person? Don’t name names, but leave a comment to tell us how you handled it.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 330 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan. How are you?
I am doing great, Priscilla. Thanks for doing such a good job on these podcasts. You have been the host now for many years and I appreciate your work.
You are so welcome. I just noticed that I think we have been doing this since 2007.
We have. We have. So thank you. You are doing a wonderful job, and these podcasts have really grown in terms of listenership over the years. Today I have an interesting topic on givers gain, our core philosophy. Givers gain is a philosophy based on the law of reciprocity and in the context of networking groups like BNI, people who adopt this philosophy, which is the core of BNI’s program, really dedicate themselves to giving business to their fellow BNI members rather than making their foremost concern getting business 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. The keyword being “ourselves”. Givers gain is not a sword to be pointed at others who may not adopt the philosophy. We use it in the context of referrals, but I think it can definitely be used as a way to carry on business and life.
Unfortunately, I have seen the givers gain concept abused from time to time. As you may have guessed, that is the reason I am doing this podcast now because I saw it abused recently. The entire concept gets misused when we start pointing the finger at others and saying, “So and so doesn’t have a givers gain attitude. He is going about it all wrong.”
What’s interesting is when we start saying things like this about other people, it’s often because they are not doing something that we think they ought to be doing in life. 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 that we should be applying to ourselves and ourselves primarily, if not only. Ironically, when we point the finger at somebody- point the index finger at someone- there’s three fingers pointing back at us. Have you ever noticed that?
Yeah, that’s right.
That’s right. When you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you. It’s a perfect reminder of not being that kind of person that blames others because that behavior is what you need to be focused on, not other people’s behavior. People who criticize and point fingers at others can really be caustic. I have seen it in BNI groups. I have seen it in business organizations. I have seen it at the Director level within the BNI organization.
I think it’s one of the reasons I think you should be selective about the people you surround yourself with, particularly in networking groups. Be selective about bringing in people with the right attitude. With that said, there will undoubtedly still be people in your life who are unendingly critical and judgmental. They are just plain vitriolic. I know that I certainly have a couple people in my life, including one person in particular, who appears to have made criticizing me his favorite past time. And there are people who love to talk about you but almost never actually talk to you about the issues that they have.
So what do you do if you practice the givers gain philosophy in a sincere and consistent way and yet there is still someone waging a very personal attack on you? Because it happens. And how you do respond when they starting waving their interpretation of what you should be doing with givers gain like a sword of criticism?
I think the answer is simple; be yourself. Continue to apply the philosophy to yourself in every way that you possibly can. Vitriolic people are that way because they can’t control themselves. Maybe they are angry. Maybe they 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 would like to steer clear of these people, there are times when it’s virtually impossible.
Telling someone they are wrong about you never works. I know this from personal experience. They will just come in 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 is badmouthing you that they are out of line or that what is being said simply isn’t appropriate. Like a referral, nothing beats a third party endorsement- or in this case, a third party defense.
So why am I bringing this all to light? Because the fact is if you are in BNI you are gong to find yourself around some difficult people occasionally. I mean, the more you can screen, the more effective you will be at not having those around you at a BNI meeting, but sometimes it just happens. Somebody with a really bad attitude is going to get in, and somebody who is combative instead of collaborative, someone who is possibly saying horrible things about somebody else that may even be about you.
So what I would like you to do- I would like 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. 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.
I just wanted to take this time today to talk on a little deeper level about how I can see givers gain being applied in this organization. I think it is a powerful standard by which we operate and it is something that sets BNI aside from every other networking organization in the world. But we have to understand that it is a standard that we have to apply to ourselves and not a sword to use to wave around at other people. That is my message for today, Priscilla.
Okay. Well, I thought that you were going to talk about something like this: I gave you a referral and I used givers gain and you didn’t give me a referral. I thought that was what you were going to talk about.
Right. Well, you know that’s another example. When someone is applying the standard on somebody else, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with that. For example, if I am a florist and you are a real estate agent, you are going to be giving me a whole lot more referrals than I am going to be giving you. So the first thing is that you can’t just take a look at the number of referrals that are being passed but the value of the referrals and the quality of the referrals.
Another thing to remember is that in BNI, what goes around come around but it may not come around directly from the person you gave it to. One of the things that makes our program work is building relationships with a lot of people. When people see you giving and giving and giving referrals to this person and giving referrals to that person, they want to give referrals to you- and not just the people that you have been giving referrals to but other people as well.
There is nothing wrong with sitting down and having a conversation with that person who is not giving you referrals, saying, “Hey, I have been able to give you two or three referrals. Can we talk about how you may be able to reciprocate?” That is a positive, supportive way of having that conversation. But what you shouldn’t do is point your finger and say, “You are not giving me referrals back.” That just leads to animosity and there may be a number of factors involved.
Givers gain has to be a standard of personal conduct, not a sword to battle other people with.
Right. Okay. Well, I like that. I think that’s excellent.
I like it, too. I hope we have some members share this at BNI chapters. I wouldn’t mind if a couple of Directors heard it, too.
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
Just one quick thing. If you are listening to this podcast or reading the transcript, do you have a story about a person who was criticizing you to others or other people to you? It doesn’t have to be a BNI story- any experience of someone who was criticizing you to others or others to you. How did you handle it? I would love to hear your story as well as your feedback on this podcast and the givers gain concept in general. Please feel free to leave your comments here. Don’t name names. Don’t point fingers, but tell the story in a way that is a lesson for all of us. I would love to see your comments. Thanks.
Well thank you so much, Dr. Misner. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by networkingnow.com, the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thanks for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.