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How to Become an Outrageous Giver

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How to Become an Outrageous Giver

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You should become an outrageous giver. An outrageous giver is someone who gives beyond expectations. If you are going to give more than others expect, you should also raise your own personal expectations. Lift your expectations about how much you are going to give both now and into the future. Set your goal to become an outrageous giver.

WHY GIVE?

There are many reasons why you should give money away. The first is that you will make a difference. Giving money away allows you to contribute to the lives of others in a special way. This might be other people, or other organizations. Often you are able to make your money work in a way that is bigger than yourself; to multiply the effort of your money.

Secondly, giving is fun. It is fun to hand money to someone or some organization and to see the joy that you are giving. It is fun to see the smile on faces, or to hear stories of what your money is allowing others to do and achieve. It is satisfying to be making a difference in people’s lives.

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Thirdly giving helps you to be more thankful. As you give money away you are doing so in recognition that you have received good things. You can be thankful for those good things by giving them away. Being thankful is an important step in being happy in life.

Giving also helps you to create an abundance mentality. The act of giving is an acknowledgment that you are ok without the money. If you are giving abundantly, that means that you are confident that you have enough money without it. You are portraying the mindset that money is in abundance. Note that this happens even if you don’t have a lot of money. The act of giving sets your mind to believing that you do; that money is abundant. And if you believe money is abundant you will more likely act in ways that create that abundance.

There is a clear connection that occurs between giving in receiving. The people that give money away tend to receive more back. I don’t think there is some magic reason for this happening, but I do think it works in our psychology. The combination of an abundance mentality and thankfulness puts you in a better attitude and state to attract money and opportunity to yourself.

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HOW TO GIVE?

Get started – No matter whether you earn a lot of money, or very little, you should start giving now. Some people decide to wait until they are making a certain amount of money, or reach a certain age. Almost every time they express regret that they didn’t start giving early. You can make a difference by starting to give money away now. Even students living on very limited incomes benefit by giving money away.

Pick an amount – You should pick an amount that you want to give away. You may want to do this on a weekly basis, or monthly basis. You may choose an annual goal, but if you do be sure to break it down into monthly targets. It is often easiest to start with a percentage of your income. A good place to start is by giving 10% of your income. For some, this may seem like a lot, and yet if you set it up as an automatic gift each month you will hardly notice it. And yet, it will be able to make a significant difference in the lives of others.

Set goals to increase the amount – Once you have chosen how much you will give away to start with, set goals to increase that over time. You may be giving away 10% now, but you may have a goal to increase to 20%, 30% or even more over time. This increase may take many years to meet, but it can be an important motivator as you work towards bigger life goals.

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Be anonymous – In your giving there are really two types of anonymity and both are valuable. One type is where no one knows who it was that gave the money. There is no record of the person giving the money. The only person that knows is you. The other type of anonymity is where you know and it is registered that you gave the money, however it is not made public. The benefit of this is that you receive a tax receipt. For example when I give to my church, they gift is recorded and a tax receipt is issued. Only a couple of people involved in the accounting process know about my gift. It is never announced or acknowledged otherwise. The government offers tax deductions for charitable donations because it is a practice that they want to encourage, and it is good stewardship to take advantage of those tax breaks. If you want, you can turn around and give your tax return away also!

More than money – you don’t need to give just money. You can give away possessions. This might be giving away used clothes to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. It might mean donating something around the house that you don’t use anymore. Someone I know recently donated a drum set that their kids didn’t use any more to a church. You can also donate your time by volunteering. Look for places to contribute with an investment of your time. This can often be extra rewarding as you are connected directly to the work that is taking place.

WHERE TO GIVE?

Support a meaningful cause – you may have a cause that is meaningful to you and that would be a great place to start with giving. Perhaps you lost a family member to diabetes and so supporting diabetes research would be a great place to start. Look for ways to give to that cause. Be sure to find something that is meaningful or passionate.

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Support your local church, synagogue or worship community – if you attend a church, synagogue or similar community you should be involved in supporting it. Not only does it support the ongoing functions of the group itself, but faith organizations often provide an opportunity to pool funds and use them to accomplish things that individual donors would not have been able to do.

Support a microcredit entrepreneur – Microcredit is the issuing of small loans to people in poverty. They then use those loans to create businesses called income generating activities. It may mean purchasing a cow, or buying a sewing machine. This kind of entrepreneurship can play an important roll in poverty alleviation. While this is often done by large organizations, you can contribute as well. Kiva.org partners individual lenders with entrepreneurs in developing countries. You loan a small amount to them, and it is repaid back over the next year. You are then able to take the same money and loan it to another person.

Sponsor a child – There are many organizations that allow you to sponsor a child in a developing country. This can be a very rewarding form of giving. Your funds go to help pay for food, clothing and education for that child. You are able to send and receive letters from your sponsor child providing a hands-on connection to your giving.

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Random acts – Look for opportunities to give as part of a random act. This might be giving a gift card for groceries to a neighbor who lost her job or box of diapers to new parents in your community. It might be buying flowers for someone or just giving money when needed. There are lots of opportunities to give as part of a random act.

You now know the why, the how and the where of giving. The next step is up to you. Just get started and you can become and abundant giver.

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8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

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8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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