3 Selfish Reasons to Be More Generous

With payoffs like these, even Scrooge might see generosity as an investment!

If your mother is anything thing like Lucie Carruthers, she’s been reminding you to be generous and share from the time you learned the word “mine.”

While I’m pretty sure mom reasons for being generous are focused on raising good citizens and creating peace in living rooms, it turns out those same ideas might are also good for your bottom line.

Generosity Is Easy

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything
~Mark Twain

Generous employee and customer policies are like that too.

If you trust your employees to take the sick and vacation time they need, not only do you end up with happier and more productive workers, you also don’t have to pay someone to monitor vacation policy compliance .  If your refund policy is “no sale is ever final” not only do you end up with customers who love you so much they are willing to say so in a video, you don’t have to teach customer service reps when to issue refunds and when to refuse.

Generosity Foils Anger

Nothing stops a person gearing up for a fight faster than a big smile and an absolute willingness to fix their problem.  Faced with non-resistance, some irate people forget what they were mad about all together.  Even the ones who don’t are often so impressed by over-the-top service in the face of their vitriol that instead of losing business, the run-in actually earns you a big, vocal fan.

Generosity Breeds Loyalty

Conventional wisdom says we are generous with our friends and family and put ourselves first when dealing with strangers.  When you treat your customers as if you expect them to cheat you, the “stranger rule” is enforced.  On the other hand, by being generous–especially in unexpected situations and places–you subtly encourage customers, employees, volunteers, and  donors to think of you not as a stranger, but as a friend.  So long as you don’t break that trust, you and your business will maintain the preferred friend status–which means your existing customers are less likely to shop for a lower price, are more likely to forgive you when you make an (honest) mistake, and will go out of their way to recommend you to their friends–not because you pay them to, but because they genuinely want to help you as much as you’ve helped them.

But. . . .

Will some people take unfair advantage of your generosity?


Doesn’t it follow you need to create rules to protect yourself?


Some people cheat.  All the rules in the world won’t stop them from trying to take advantage.  If you inadvertently hire one of those people, fire them.  If you have a client or a customer who is always unhappy or is just  more trouble than he’s worth, stop accepting his business.  But don’t punish the rest of your customers for the bad behavior of the few.  Your good customers will be happier, you’ll have more time and money and the world will be a better place.

Your Turn

How have you rewarded generosity as a customer or employee?  How has generosity positively impacted your own bottom line?

2 thoughts on “3 Selfish Reasons to Be More Generous

  1. I signed up for an on-line class that was not what I expected it to be. It came with a refund, stating that even if I participated in all six weeks of class, if I wasn’t satisfied, I could get the entire cost of the class back.

    Today, I exercised the option of asking for a refund. The teacher’s email came back saying that my PayPal account would be credited with a refund within thirty minutes. That promise was kept, and so even though that class didn’t work for me, I would be more than willing to sign up with the instructor for a different class.

    Being generous does create good will and yields benefits beyond the price of doing business.

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