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Giving Without Expectation – How To Make It Work For You

Brad D
Giving Without Expectation - How To Give Without Expectation - Give More Expect Less

What is your first reaction when you hear, “giving without expectation is key“?

You may think giving without expectation is easy. You do it all the time. You give someone a compliment. You give someone a gift because it makes you happy. You give your time listening to a friend who is struggling.

Or, you may think giving without expectation is impossible. You give someone a compliment because it will gain your their favor. You give someone a gift because making them happy will make you happy in the future.

Regardless of which reaction you have, you are right.

My friend Larry Gioia (founder of Dynamic Paddlers and co-creator of Connection University) tagged me in a Tweet referencing a video by Gary Vaynerchuk. It sparked me to write this article. The Tweet is about giving without keeping score.

His effective use of the new 280-character Tweet length definitely caught my attention! Watch the video…it’s only 1 minute.

Gary says, “The key to the whole [give give give] system is not to be disappointed when people don’t come through”.

This struck a chord with me.

While you may offer help and give to many people, you cannot predict their reaction. Some people are overcome with joy that you took the time to help them when they were struggling. Other times, you get no reaction at all.

It is nearly impossible to predict whether a person will appreciate the time, money, or advice you have given them.

However, that is the entire reason why giving without expectation key.

What changed everything for me is realizing that I have the power to decide what giving means to me. I also have the power to manage my own expectations.

Tips for Managing your Expectations

Here are some tips that I use to manage my expectations. I do not expect these tips to work for everyone. Please read them and feel free to apply what relates to your life and your goals.

For me, the key to giving is NOT to have no expectations, it is to have no short-term expectations. You must give with purpose, but without expecting gains dependent on others.

For example, this past year I have chosen to help Pittsburgh businesses that want to grow their website traffic. This means taking 2-3 hours per week choosing a business I believe could use my help. I reach out to them and perform an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) audit suggesting tips and improvements that could help boost their website traffic.

Most of the businesses I choose do not even have ways to repay the favor. The sole purpose I have for helping is the satisfaction that I have spent my time helping others. Also in the process, I am learning more effective ways to improve my skills and help clients in the future.

Tip #1 – Use Giving as a Way to Learn

A positive and productive way to create a solid foundation for giving is to incorporate it as a way to learn. A way to improve yourself. This creates an excellent source of self-satisfaction regardless of whether the recipient shows appreciation or even acknowledges the favor at all. This will help prevent you from getting demoralized if you run into a lot of people who do not appreciate the gift you have given them.

Another way you can give without expectation is by showing appreciation for other people’s content.

You probably found this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, or another form of social media, so I will assume you already know how social media works.

Social media is designed to connect people, to allow us to share our thoughts and ideas with anyone in the world.

When you create a blog post, a YouTube or Facebook video, or a Tweet, you are essentially giving your friends and followers something for free. You provide them with free advice, entertainment, a laugh, or even potentially a life-changing revelation.

However, as you many of you may know, it can be frustrating to write a piece of content you are proud of, post it on social media, and get very little engagement. This is when managing your expectations comes into play and it’s a perfect place to start giving.

Tip #2: Show Appreciation for Other’s Content

One of the most effective ways you can connect with people is by showing them that you appreciate the hard work and effort they have put into their content.

This is a gift you can give to anyone with very little effort. When you read a blog or watch a video you appreciate, take one minute to write a message telling the creator that you appreciated it and why.

I generally follow this format when writing these messages:

  • Clearly reference the piece of content
  • Say why you appreciated it and the impact it had on you
  • Thank them for creating the content
  • Do not ask for anything in return (VERY IMPORTANT)

Sub-tip: Use words like “You” and “Your” instead of “I” to be more effective.

Instead of saying, “I really enjoyed your most recent blog post. It taught me a lot about how I can change my habits to live and eat healthier. Thank you!”

Try saying, “Your most recent blog had quite an impact on me. Your tips on how to live and eat healthily made so much sense and I can’t wait to try them. Thank you!”

You probably see the difference already.

Using the word “You” instead of “I” makes the message about them, not about you.

The reason this approach works for me is that it allows me to give something to someone else without expecting anything in return.

Whether the person replies thankfully or not at all does not matter much to me. My intention is only to let them know that their work was appreciated and I expect nothing in return.

More often than not, the person replies graciously when they hear that their content made an impact and was appreciated. This is a great way to start a solid foundation of connection and friendship.

Also, if you consider yourself a content creator, you probably know that it can be difficult to give your time without receiving the rewards you expect (likes, followers, engagement, clients).

By showing that you appreciate other people’s content without expectation, you will be more likely to build genuine connections with people. These people are more likely to return the favor by checking out your content and possibly showing their support in the future.

Use Your Moments of Free Time to Reply to Others

I recently read an article that discussed a similar topic. It was posted in the Facebook group Connection University titled Spending Your Teeny Tiny Moments Replying by Linda Coles.

The article gave good advice that when you find little moments of free time, use that time to reply to someone who has reached out to you or shown appreciation for your content.

This article hit upon a topic that I know a lot of people struggle with.

You email someone to inform them about an event that you know they would be interested in and they don’t even take the time to reply. Or you write a heartfelt comment on a person’s blog or video and get no response.

Why don’t they take the time to reply or at least click the ‘like’ button to show that they saw your comment?

You’ve probably experienced this. Maybe you became disheartened or began to see the person in a bad light.

I take opportunities like these to learn how to manage my expectations. I have found that if I feel disheartened after leaving someone a positive message, I left the message with the expectation of return, rather than just giving.

So how can you learn to manage your expectations to prevent disappointment when someone doesn’t reply?

Tip #3: Grow your Emotional Bank Account

Consider a bank account. The better your credit score and higher your income, the more money you can borrow. If you go to a bank with no income and a terrible credit score and want to take out a large loan, you’re going to get denied.

Now imagine that you also have an emotional bank account. [1]

Each time you show appreciation, give to others and help people in need, you are making a deposit into your emotional bank account.

Similar to a traditional bank account, as you make more deposits, you receive more respect and trust.

If you send someone an email or write them a message of appreciation and receive no reply, you may not have enough trust deposited into your emotional bank account with them.

This is not their fault. They are busy. They may get hundreds of emails a day and just do not have time to reply to them all.

Continue making deposits into your emotional bank account with them.

Over time, you are very likely to find that as you make more deposits into your emotional bank account, more people will be receptive to your appreciation.

And of course, this results in more reward and personal growth for you. You start building stronger connections, not based on what you can receive from them, but based on mutual trust and respect.

Conclusion on Giving Without Expectation

These are the three best lessons I have learned when it comes to giving without expectation.

Gary Vaynerchuk speaks the truth when he says, “The key to the whole [give give give] system is not to be disappointed when people don’t come through”.

By learning to give without expectation, you will not only improve yourself, you will also find much greater reward than you ever imagined.



  1. Covey, Stephen R., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (New York, NY: Fireside Books 1989) – The concept of the emotional bank account is covered in great detail in this excellent book by Stephen Covey. I highly recommend reading it.

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6 Responses
  1. Love your message and the breakdown of how you give to others! The Bank Account analogy hit home for me and I intend to use that theory moving forward! Thank you for the tips.

    1. Thank you, Varsha! So glad you found some advice that relates well to you. The emotional bank account is a great way to give to others and I have a feeling it’s a strategy you are already very good at 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading, Marta! You give so much free content to your listeners, you deserve a TON of appreciation. You’re already a pro at giving without expectation 🙂

  2. Great article! it is unfortunate (on my end) that I had forgotten about the emotional bank account from taking a 7 Habits class years ago, so thanks for putting that back in front of me. Btw – you were one of the people that I had wanted to connect with at the event on Monday, you are on my radar!

    1. 7 Habits class? I’d be interested in hearing about that.

      Are you going to Aaron Watson’s Going Deep Summit January 27th? Would be great to talk to you there.

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