The 4 Principles of Receiving

by Guest Author on · 6 comments

Giving is certainly an important part of life. But so is receiving. After all, these two always go together: when one person gives, another one receives. And many times you'll be at the receiving end of a transaction.

I believe that it's just as significant to be a good receiver in life as it is to be a good giver. Unfortunately, many people have a problem with receiving. And according to my observations, people who are good and abundant givers are particularly bad receivers. They've learned how to give, but not how to receive.

This is why, drawing from my experience as a confidence and communication coach, I want to share with you what I deem as the most important 4 principles of receiving. Put them into practice when others offer you something, and you'll embody a good receiver.

1. Don't Refuse What You Are Given

Many people have this tendency to refuse what it is given to them, in an attempt to be polite and not burden the other person. Some etiquette books actually recommend refusing to accept what you're given, at least initially.

I disagree with this approach. Assuming that the other person offers you something because they genuinely want you to have it, not because they think they have the obligation to offer it, I think you should take it. And if they offer it out of a sense of obligation, that's really their problem, not yours.

There are small exceptions, like if let's say a person offers you a cigar and you don't smoke, you can politely refuse it and briefly explain why. But these are the exceptions, not the rule.

Giving is a positive social act, and the most positive way to react to it is receiving. If the other person wants you to have something, take it. Show you can receive openly.

2. Always Show Gratitude

Sometimes we get so used to some forms of receiving from some persons in our life that we end up taking it for granted. Thus, we no longer feel gratitude for what we obtain and we no longer express it.

Like the person who gets so used to their spouse cooking a delicious meal for them each day, even though they don't really have to, that they no longer pay attention to it or give thanks. The whole process of giving and receiving becomes cold, mechanic and impersonal.

Hopefully, the other person is not offering you something just because they want you to appreciate them. They do it because it brings them intrinsic enjoyment. Nevertheless, showing a bit of gratitude is easy for you to do and I guarantee you that it's highly rewarding to them.

Even a simple: "Thanks! This is great" will go a long way. So, try to not take receiving for granted. Try to always notice it, have appreciation for it and express your appreciation.

3. Talk about the Way What You Received Helps You

It's excellent if the other person understands exactly what the value of what they give you is for you. Because this can help them tweak what and how they give you so it's as valuable as possible for you. After all, that's what they want, right?

Someone may give you a bunch of oranges, which they deem you're gonna eat and that's their main worth for you. But what you actually like about them is that they have a highly flavored peel, which you use when you bake a cake.

Let them know that. Talk about the precise benefit you obtain. In the future they may choose to give you the oranges with the thickest peel, which are the most useful to you. You get more value, they provide more value. They know that and it brings them more joy; everybody wins.

4. Don't Feel Indebted For Receiving

Often, we feel that if someone gives us something, we now owe them and we have to return the favor. This is why we may sometimes refuse to take what we have been offered: we don't want to feel indebted.

But this is not how giving works. Sure, sometimes when someone gives you something, there is this implicit understanding that you'll return the favor. Sometimes this understanding is actually explicit. The other person will tell you: "I'll do this for you if you do this for me".

But many times, no such implication exists. You're dealing with unconditional giving, out of pure kindness, fondness or empathy. In this case, the pleasure of giving is the reward for the other person.

It's important to recognize this form of giving and embrace it wholeheartedly, without feeling indebted. In fact I advise to assume in general when someone gives you something that they're doing it without expecting something in return.

If they do expect something in return, it's their job to convey that one way or another. If they don't, consider it selfless giving. Just express gratitude verbally and that's it. Don't let giving become a way for others to shackle you. It's their choice to give, and your right to not feel beholden.

Receiving properly is not as easy as it may initially appear. Many of us have all sorts of emotional barriers or a lack of understanding of how social transactions work that prevents us from being good receivers.

The good news is that you can overcome these emotional barriers, you can acquire a better understanding of social transactions, and you can learn how to be a good receiver. Applying the 4 principles I discussed is an excellent start, and perhaps even more than that.


Eduard Ezeanu assists individuals who are socially inept or shy in learning how to talk to people and build fulfilling relationships with others. He also writes on his blog, People Skills Decoded.

If you have any questions regarding being a good receiver, just ask them in the comments section and he'll be happy to reply to them.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Yum Yucky January 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

This is excellent. I am a giver by nature. Receiving has always been difficult for me. I feel guilty when receiving. I’ve sometimes even convinced loved ones NOT to give me something they mentioned they’ve been planning on. But what I need to realize is that, just as I give out of love, I need to accept what I’m being given, knowing that it’s being done out of love by the giver. Thanks for a wonderful post!
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Eduard - People Skills Decoded January 17, 2013 at 4:48 am

I know that feeling of guilt when receiving. In my experience, it’s usually because deep down you feel you don’t deserve what you’re receiving or you’re a bad person for accepting/needing something. But that’s just a limiting/irrational belief which you can actively challenge and overcome.
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Dick Ingersoll January 21, 2013 at 9:14 am

This is very interesting to me.

I was just reading in a book last night about the way different cultures have traditions that dictate how they accept “gifts” or gratuities or other sorts of acknowledgements of thanks.

The book indicated that in some Asian cultures it is common to refuse graciously three times but to accept on the fourth.

But… the universal custom is to express gratitude for all forms.
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Eduard - People Skills Decoded February 13, 2013 at 8:39 am

Interesting. Wow, refuse three times? Personally I think that’s overdoing it. Especially if you actually want to accept what you have been offered. Sounds more like a silly etiquette game to me.
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chanikacha January 24, 2013 at 6:48 am

Interesting! We also remember that we must not always need to rely on receiving but what we can give to others. It is just like give and take.
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Eduard - People Skills Decoded February 13, 2013 at 8:39 am

And vice-versa 🙂
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