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How to Avoid Common Pitfalls in Giving and Receiving


Ross School of Business Professor Wayne Baker has written extensively on the power of asking for help, but in a new essay in Psychology Today he identifies four ways that people disrupt the cycle of giving and receiving.

In the article, Baker notes, “sometimes we disrupt the cycle by how we ask for help or how we respond to offers of help. When we do so, people stop helping us.”

The article then explains the four pitfalls, as well as how to avoid them:

  • Failure to actually ask
  • Failure to accept offers graciously
  • Failure to express sincere gratitude
  • Failure to follow through or follow up 

“When we clearly ask for what we need, graciously accept offers, express gratitude for them, follow through and follow up, our actions create positive emotions that energize the giving-receiving cycle,” Baker concludes. “These actions promote additional prosocial behaviors and strengthen the ‘honored network’ of reciprocity in groups, organizations, and communities.”

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