In our material world, generosity usually means giving things to others you have bought for them. Generosity of spirit however, comes in a different package altogether, is harder to do but much more powerful in building or sustaining a relationship – and social capital. It seems there is an increasing lack of such generosity in our self-serving culture – sometimes from those you might have thought would be most prepared to give it – most willing to ‘walk the talk’
Demonstrating generosity of spirit means the following – I would be interested in what others can add. This is what I have experienced directly or indirectly from many wonderful individuals in my personal and professional life, am grateful for and would like to celebrate:
- Speaking positively and generously about others behind their back – the opposite of ‘bad mouthing’
- Celebrating the success and achievements of others – Shelley Gable’s ‘active constructive responding’
- Lifting the phone to say ‘hi, how’s it going’?
- Doing something for someone that takes just a little bit of thought and
effort – however small. Random acts of kindness are wonderful
- Not expecting total reciprocity but acknowledging that doing things for others usually makes you feel good too!
- Giving others the benefit of the doubt – identifying positives or at least not jumping to negative conclusions
- Checking what people mean and not assuming negative intentions without clear evidence.
- Being prepared to really listen
- Being prepared to laugh at yourself – or at least not take yourself too seriously
- Focusing on collaborating with others rather than being in competition with them
- Giving others credit for their strengths and efforts rather than focusing on their deficits and mistakes
- Tuning into what is important to others and communicating your interest or concern
- Acknowledging and saying thanks – not taking others for granted
- Demonstrating you take others into account in decision making – the ‘we’ not the ‘me’
- Being prepared to be the first to open the door to resolving conflict – being big enough to say you weren’t perfect either
- Not always needing to have the last word
- Being aware that personal integrity might be more important to a positive sense of self than getting the better of someone.
This type of generosity probably takes less time than popping out to the shops! Not more but different. Do you want to win every battle or grow a good relationship? One of the reasons I married my husband twenty years ago is because he has such generosity of spirit – I wanted to say this in my wedding speech but I only got as far as ‘ he has the most enormous…’ and the rest was drowned in hoots of hilarity!