In some recent studies, researchers have found the people don’t like to work with others who are selfish. No surprise. But they also don’t like to work with people who are unselfish.
The control group, normal people, judge givers through their own filters and believe the altruistic ones have an ulterior motive. That somehow, the givers are doing so for some gain. Or that they broke the rules of everyone claiming the same reward, even if giving it up benefited the group.
The biggest complaint, however, were the unselfish people made them look bad. Their reputation somehow suffered because of the selflessness.
So it wasn’t so much about the unselfish ones, but was about how it affected the control group. They saw themselves as lacking in generosity, recognized how it made them look, and took it out on the people who were giving. Instead of using it as a model, they rejected the person who could make a true difference.
It’s a lesson that many creative, generous, compassionate people have learned all too well. We have to conform and hide our gifts or people will condemn and spurn us.
So we crater to survive, conform to what the average person does and avoid rocking the boat. Unfortunately, this means we won’t live up to our potential. It just bolsters the attitudes of the average person. We give them our power, and it means that the status quo thrives.
It’s interesting that in a society that teaches unselfishness, that very virtue is reviled. Our society may value it in theory, but in reality, it’s considered a vice. As children, we receive conflicting information about this issue. Is it any wonder that our culture is screwed up?
If we want to change our society, culture, or business, we can’t just cave into the people who are more invested in their egos than they are in progress or prosperity. “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
It takes courage to stand up to them and realize that their discomfort and accusations simply arise out of their own inadequacies. To fulfill our potential, we have to let our light shine and be authentic.
As more and more people have done this, it’s become more accepted and appreciated. The idea of practicing random acts of kindness has swelled in recent years. So, although the average person may shun the generous one, kindness has become popular.
To read about the studies, visit WSU Study Finds People Really Don’t Like Working with Unselfish Colleagues and Too good to live: People hate generosity as much as they hate mean-spiritedness.
And check out Random Acts of Kindness to see how it’s gained in popularity.
Copyright 2010 Linda Ann Stewart
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