Peter Bregman, in the Harvard Business Review, wrote an interesting article this week about what motivates people to help. If you haven’t seen it yet, follow that link and have a look. Peter raises an interesting question about why people are motivated to give to others, to help.
In general, people like to be helpful. I suppose part of it is an expectation of getting something in return, but that’s not the core.
The fact is, you get a rush just from knowing you’ve done good. It actually physically feels good to you, and in many cases that may be enough reward in itself.
Of course, we get rather cynical about all this. Many charitable organizations prey on our need to be loved and to feel like we’re making a difference. After a while we get the sense that maybe we’re not actually making the difference that we’d hoped, and that some of the unscrupulous types might be taking advantage of us.
That’s why Peter’s example is so powerful. It’s about making a difference to someone here and now, in a way that makes a difference that you can actually see.
Here’s what we learn about giving:
- Let people see the difference they’re making, in as immediate a way as possible, and in the way that person values.
- Entering payment into the equation introduces a whole different dynamic – it becomes about the money rather than about the value delivered.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People like helping.
As I said before, the act of giving has great value. Remember that in your own life, and those of people who you work with.