The Art of Receivership — Balancing Give and Take

Your relationship with taking is just as important as your relationship with giving

Receivership is an art — an art that thrives on reciprocity. Its coin has two sides, give and take.

Since most people want to be successful, humans have spent an unprecedented amount of time and energy studying and documenting the traits of successful people.

We study successful people so we can learn how to receive what they have received. What are the greats besides people who have received the most in return for their work? The most money, the most attention, the most respect and the most power.

There are countless books written about successful people and their relationship with give and take. A great majority of them address the generous and humble nature that many successful people embody.

We are so focused, though, on the giving side of these greats, that we lose sight of the taking side. Of course, all these successful people were generous in their way — never trying to take more than given and not fretting over getting enough. But the whole point of looking at their success is in what they received.

If they had not received success we would not be reading about how they received it. Perhaps we have lost sight of successful people’s relationship with taking because we are distracted by their relationship with giving.

Our relationship with taking is just as important as our relationship with giving. There is as much to be said about the art of true generosity as there is about the art of receivership, but the art of receivership is the one that has been long forgotten.

As always, it comes back to balance. By practicing the art of receivership, you can find balance between the giving and taking in your life. You can accept the gifts of the world with the same grace and humility that you wish for the world to accept yours.

Practicing the art of receivership

Mastering the art of receivership is paramount to finding success. Practicing it, however, can be extremely difficult if we have been practicing shutting ourselves off from receiving for much of our lives.

You can practice the art of receivership simply by being aware when you are pushing things away instead of receiving them.

What is your posture in life?

There are many auto-responses — usually to compliments — that we have been saying for years. These age old mistakes for modesty may be taking you out of the posture of receivership.

When someone gives you a sincere compliment, which is really just them gifting you appreciation, do you push that gift away and deny it? Or do you stand with your arms wide open, available to receive.

There are many responses in our tool kits that effectively deny the compliments people gift us, instead of receiving them. Humans have been working on this handy list for decades. We will just list a few examples.

‘Oh, it was nothing’

‘I couldn’t have done it without this and that’

I don’t know if I/it was that good, but thank you anyway’

‘It wasn’t that great for this reason but thank you anyway’

‘Thank you, but I don’t know if I deserve that’

‘All the credit goes to this person or that person or God’

‘Oh, stop’

‘All I did was this or that, but thank you anyway’

The list goes on, of course.

Then, for those of us who don’t want to openly deny the compliment, there is the powerful move of deflection, used very frequently. This is when we respond without acknowledging the compliment at all.

Sometimes we deflect by returning the compliment with another compliment. Other times we just take whatever was said in a different direction ignoring the compliment part all together.

Them: “Holly, your work on that piece about publications was brilliant.”

Me: “What are your thoughts around the next piece I am working on about sexism?”


Me: “Oh, yeah, how is your piece coming along?”

For many of us, it feels very uncomfortable to receive compliments, despite our craving for appreciation. In those cases, you can create new responses and practice those. They can be as simple as you like, even as simple as saying, “Thank you for the compliment.”

It matters less what the other person hears and more what you hear coming out of your own mouth. You are accepting the compliment, receiving it and feeling gratitude for it. You are standing there with your arms open, happy to receive the appreciation you deserve — because the taking is just as important as the giving.

Look for ways that you deny receiving in the name of humility or generosity.

Maybe you have a hard time taking money from your friends for your products or services. Maybe you never accept when your colleague offers to buy you a gift. Maybe it is just the compliments you deny.

You can practice the art of receivership by finding areas your life where your arms are closed, pushing the gifts of others back to them. Remember, openly and appreciatively receiving the gifts of others is a very humble act.

If you find areas of your life where you are not taking, or taking makes you feel uncomfortable, you can practice receiving by opening your arms and accepting the gifts that you have been denying for so long.

Written by Holly Kellums

Originally published on

Featured image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Published by hollykellums

Internationally Published Author * Influencer * Recovery Coach * Human Potential Activist

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