How to focus your giving and take care of yourself
Following last month’s newsletter about asking for help from superconnectors, one reader responded with this question.
As someone who could be considered a superconnector, how do I deal with so many people asking for my help? People want Skype calls or coffees, and this always takes more than 5 minutes of course. If they are just looking for a contact, then I can shoot an email but this is not the type of request I get often. Some people think I am in the HR business and should refer them to companies. So, how to politely refuse or deflect.
In the book Give and Take, Adam Grant describes successful givers as “otherish givers” meaning they care about helping others while keeping their own interests in sight. This compares to “selfless givers” who give generously of their time and energy, often to their own detriment.
If you want to be an “otherish giver”, Grant provides these tips:
- The five minute favor: Be willing to help anyone with something that takes 5 minutes or less. In this way you are helpful, but you do not overload yourself.
- Focus your coffee chat giving on a few areas that you really enjoy, for example, making introductions, generating ideas or giving honest feedback. If people ask for your help in these areas, you say yes. If they ask for help in areas you enjoy less, say no, it’s not your area of expertise.
- Carve out chunks of time for helping and chunks of time for working on your projects. In this way you dedicate time for helping, yet don’t get distracted from your own work.
When you set boundaries on your giving like this, you retain the benefits of giving while being respectful to yourself. This idea resonates with me because saying no sometimes feels harsh. If I say no with the purpose of being respectful to myself, that is a positive outcome.
In this holiday time when much is asked of us, especially givers who are often happy to help, remember that it is ok and even more effective to be “otherish” – giving to others and taking care of yourself.
Best wishes for a happy holiday and a good start to 2020!
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