I had an experience today that I think illustrates an important skill that I would dare say nearly all of us could work on: the ability to accept the generosity of others.

On Sunday, my bike was stolen. On Monday, I mentioned it to the class I'm teaching. One of my older students told me that he had a bike he would sell me for $25. I told him I'd take it. He brought it in the next day, gave me the bike and left class before I could pull out my wallet to pay him. I have to admit I'm still a little peeved that he did that, but it's given me something to think about.

We all seem to be pretty adept at giving. I'm also convinced that a truly manly man expects to pay for services and objects he uses. But from time to time someone will want to perform an act of generosity, of giving to us without accepting compensation. I have two questions that stem from this (thought I feel one's a bit rhetorical): How willing should we be to take the generosity others offer us? and How do we accept these acts with grace?

Views: 428

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

It is often difficult to accept gifts, as Will mentions, because we feel in debt. Further it might feel like a threat to our masculinity if we interpret accepting a gift as being a mooch or meaning that we can't provide for ourselves or our families. However, it was widely accepted in the middle ages that largess (generosity with material goods and wealth) was an important aspect of chivalry and therefore very manly indeed. Therefore when someone is generous towards me I consider accepting the generosity as a way of helping the giver be a more chivalrous man. I also make note of the generosity so that even if a can't pay them back with money I will try to pay them back with kindness. You never know when the person who was generous to you today will be in need of assistance tomorrow.
I've looked at this issue from the other side: How do you get someone to *accept* generosity (such as charity or repayment of a debt they don't want returned)? I tell them, "Look, if you don't want the money, then do me a favor and donate it to charity for me." This is remarkably effective. Who can resist this? They'll take it, and probably forget their initial enthusiasm for being charitable, and end up keeping the money. But this is the original goal anyway. If they do follow through, they give it to charity and someone is better off.
The question of feeling in debt is really important to me in regards to this question. Last night I finished grading papers for this class. When I came to this particular student's paper, I had a hard time giving it a fair grade because I felt like I "owed" him something. To be fair, I'm about 99% sure that this guy gave the bike to me with no expectation that it would affect his grade in the class. And whether he expected it or not, we completed that transaction to his apparent satisfaction, so why should I feel like I still owe him?Is this just one of those things I'm going to have to accept is going to take time to change? I think it may be. Until then, I'm going to have to be a little more careful about working with taking stuff from my students I suppose.

I like the idea of a "thank you" and a handshake. I think accepting generosity with this kind of grace is moving in the right direction.
Robert Ringer (Author of "Winning through Intimidation") stated that all transactions should be value-for-value - and that 'free' offers will come back to bite you - often times in ways way beyond the simple transaction. Always best to pay for services (can be barter, lessons, money, etc.).
I might be a little late to this party, but I wanted to throw in my two cents.

I would say this is definitely made more difficult because this (presumably young) man, regardless of expectation, is "beholden" to you in this relationship, because you are his instructor and he is your student. It's obviously different when the generosity is from someone who you are beholden *to* (like a parent or a mentor), or someone with whom you exchange generosities frequently (like a close friend).

No matter the situation, however, I always do the following - as soon as I'm able, I write them a thank you card on my own stationary and give it to them privately (no need to embarrass anybody) with a firm handshake and a thank you. If the generosity was significant, I try to ply them with a gift I find appropriate (not too expensive or elaborate, and nothing that could be regarded as "cheap" - usually a bottle of something, or a few cigars, or a book that I think they might enjoy with a short inscription on the flyleaf). But usually the card is enough - I feel my obligation to the person discharged at that point and can go about my business. The returned kindness, even if it seems small, will be worlds apart from what most others would do, anyway.

RSS

Latest Activity

Robert M Giannamore joined Matt Cole's group
Thumbnail

Runners

For all men who enjoy the manly exercise of running.
26 minutes ago
Robert M Giannamore replied to Jonathan Bjerre Guld Jørgensen's discussion A scent that smells like Leather, tobacco, wood and welding flame?
"I favor Irish Spring bar soap, Taylor of Bond Street shaving soap and occasionally Old Spice for cologne and other times Aqua Velva for aftershave.  I am a bald guy and I have a lot of shaved surface for the Aqua.  In the winter, I use a…"
29 minutes ago
Tim replied to Stein's discussion Essential shirtless experiences growing up. in the group The Shirtless Man
"Yup..I enjoy running shirtless on warm days as well. Apart from staying comfortable, running shirtless reduces the laundry load and eliminates nipple chafing problems, which I sometimes get on longer runs when wearing a shirt. I get very sweaty…"
32 minutes ago
Sean O' replied to Jack Bauer's discussion "Don't follow your passion" -- Mike Rowe
"Just about every off-ramp on I-5 has someone holding a sign asking for money.Plus the ones in the city. Several I talked to were "breaking into music" or moved there because the welfare benefits were better than where they were originally…"
38 minutes ago
Robert M Giannamore posted a discussion

Beards

So I grew a pretty nice beard last winter, did not shave the face (did shave the neck) from September to March. It was fairly gnarly by March.  Looking for some good direction on opinions.  Style a beard yourself or pay the $5.00 and have a barber do it?  If you style it yourself, where did you learn and what do you use.  I am a bald guy, short, athletic build.  Just want to look nice with a bald head and beard, I know it can be done.  Look forward to your thoughts.  I have attached a picture…See More
42 minutes ago
George Henry Robbins III commented on Bruce Uall's group The Shirtless Man
"Always shirtless at home and stretch and flex frequently when moving around."
1 hour ago
Joshua Cawthorn replied to Joshua Cawthorn's discussion Chess Openings in the group Chess
"I use the Ruy Lopez probably more often than not because almost everyone responds with 2. e5. Then I usually bring my knight to f3 and it just sort of goes from there!"
1 hour ago
Lucius Artorius Castus replied to Jack Bauer's discussion "Don't follow your passion" -- Mike Rowe
"I think that's the biggest reason people stick with it even though they hate it. I only took issue when the idea that any functional human can do the job". I have no issue with calling it an unskilled job, just with the idea that anyone…"
1 hour ago

© 2014   Created by Brett McKay.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service