Guy Kawasaki’s Intrinsic Giving


Guy Kawasaki.

I just finished reading Guy Kawasaki’s book “Enchantment, The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.”  I my first encounter with Kawasaki was when I read “Ten Ways to use LinkedIn” on his blog How to Change the World.  He is an author, venture capitalist in Silicon Valley and former chief evangelist at Apple Computers.

This isn’t a review of the book, although it is a very good book and one I would recommend, rather a brief discussion about his thoughts on giving.  Guy talks about about building trust through giving.  In his discussion of giving he links the concept of reciprocity.  There are three forms reciprocity associated with the giving.  In the first form there is an expectation of receiving something in return.  In the second form it’s a case of “paying it forward.”  There is hope of receiving something in return but it is not explicit.  With the third form the giving is  for intrinsic reason with no expectation of receiving something in return.  Kawasaki says this is the purest form of reciprocity and this form “increases your trustworthiness the most and causes the most enchantment.”

In my experience with intrinsic giving, sometimes the recipient is uncomfortable, thinking that they are then expected to reciprocate.  I tell them they don’t need to do anything for me, if they wish to they can give to someone else.  This takes the tension and from the exchange and allows the recipient to receive and enjoy the gift.

I discover the effectiveness of this technique a number of years ago.  My wife and I were vacationing and spending a day at the Grand Canyon.  We met two women and started a conversation.  We learned they too were from from Canada.  They gave us tips of viewing spots.  This was challenging with low clouds blocking our view for large parts of the day.  At lunch time we got a table in a pub in the village.  As we enjoyed our lunch the two women entered in search of a table.  No tables were available so we invited them to join us.  We picked up the conversation and enjoyed our time together.  When the bills came my wife and I paid for the four of us.  Noticing their discomfort I used the technique which put us all at ease.  Some time later they contacted us and shared with us what they had done for someone else.  We were able to share in another gifting exchange.

I learned from my wife that giving can be beneficial for the giver.  Numerous studies have shown that giving benefits you emotionally and it’s good for your health.  A 2006 study by the American National Institute of Health showed that when you give to charities causes your brain to release endorphins producing a positive feeling called a “helper’s high.”  In the book “Why Good Things Happen to Good People” by Stephen Post a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University giving shows health benefits in people with chronic illness.  Perhaps we should all practice a little intrinsic giving.

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