I recently listened to a Dare to Lead podcast in which Brene Brown interviewed Charles Feltman, the author of The Thin Book of Trust. During this interview, Feltman says one way we break trust is by extending an offer we cannot fulfill. An offer, says Feltman, is the same as a commitment.
I realize this statement may seem obvious, and I cannot keep count of how many times I have made a well-intentioned offer and not been able to deliver. All the times I have said, “Let me know if you need anything,” and “Please reach out if I can help.”
In the moment, I mean it. I sense the other person’s pain and I want to alleviate their suffering. I suspect most of us would like to alleviate suffering, and if everyone whom we extended an offer to help asked us to follow through, we would feel overwhelmed and burned out.
I also offer to help for two other reasons. One, I have been taught helping is the right and expected thing to do, and two, I conflate my worth with what I do. These beliefs are indicative of the Human Giver Syndrome, which is defined by Kate Manne as:
“The human givers are expected to offer their time, attention, affection, and bodies willingly, placidly, to the other class of people, the human beings.”
Please understand: I don’t think giving is wrong, bad, or sexist – quite the opposite. What I have observed, however, is how we give and why we give differs depending on our family of origin, our cultural norms, and gender socialization.
If there is an internal tug-of-war between a “should” and a “want,” then you might be in danger of jeopardizing your own well-being to accommodate an expectation. If you want to act with integrity – if you want to be in alignment with your values, then consider developing a rubric to help you recognize your motivations.
A rubric is a scoring guide which evaluates purpose or function. Teachers use rubrics to inform students how they will be graded on a paper or project. Rubrics also can be used to organize our thoughts and the standards we use to make decisions.
The Little Free Pantry supplies are low.
Would you be able to help?
If you choose to make a rubric which will support when and how you make an offer, then you may want to consider the following questions:
- How do I want to feel after I make an offer?
- Will I have the time, resources, and energy to complete or fulfill my offer?
- Is there a way I can convey my concern, compassion, or support without making an offer?
- Am I experiencing any pressure, resentment, anger, or obligation to make an offer?
- If I make this offer, will I be helping someone avoid a natural consequence to their behavior?
- Is this offer transactional? In other words, am I expecting something in return?
At the end of the day, I only want to make offers which I can deliver on, which are congruent with my values, and which do not deplete me. I do not like the way I feel or act when I am experiencing resentment, burnout, or shame: all possible reactions to fulfilling an offer I don’t have resources for or for reneging on an offer. My new mantra is: “An offer is a commitment.” May I remember this mantra every time I consider making an offer.
What is your rubric for making an offer? I’d love to hear from you.
Have a great week!
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Five years later, Kim is still in the flow of supporting and building a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.