Relationship Giving and asking: a necessary balance

Giving and asking: a necessary balance


There are generous people who become “doormats.” Everyone ends up stepping on them because it is assumed that their only function in the world is to give themselves to others. It is in their interest to cultivate the art of asking.

Donors, recipients or balancers. In social relationships there are people who tend to give and never consider asking for help and others who tend to receive and rarely give anything in return. A third type of person constantly tries to find an unnatural balance between what they give and what they receive. What is the most desirable?

Even in a hidden way, there is a prejudice that giving is a virtue and asking is a defect or a vice. Even in such prestigious essays as Give and Take by Professor Adam Grant, receivers are a danger to avoid. In his own words: “Normally, when a receiver wins, there is always someone who loses.

This book also talks about two kinds of donors, those who are generous with discretion and the “doormats”, those people that everyone ends up stepping on, because it is assumed that their only function in the world is to give themselves to others. Between them, Adam Grant places the balancers, those people who seek a balance between what they give and what they receive. However, the Buddha himself said that “one must be moderate even with moderation”, in the sense that obsessing over leveling the scales can destroy the spontaneity of relationships.

Someone can be a little detached with their money, but they can dedicate time to the needs of the other, in the same way that some people exercise financial generosity, but are greedy of feelings. There can never be true equity between two people, but we learn an important lesson from balancers: giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. We have come to the world to give our best, but also to ask for what we need to feel better and, thus, to be able to continue contributing.


Five years ago, artist Amanda Palmer made a name for herself in the world of personal growth with the book The Art of Asking. And he certainly knew what he was talking about, since before he became a rock star, he had worked as a living statue and received money from pedestrians.

When she started touring, she would ask the audience to carry her as she darted off the stage. And when deciding to break with his record company, he organized the most successful crowdfunding campaign of those that had been done until then.

Amanda has never been afraid to ask, but found that the world is full of people fearful of expressing their needs, which paralyzes their own existence and muddies relationships. This New York-born artist explains it like this: “It is not so much the act of asking that paralyzes us, but what is underneath: the fear of showing ourselves vulnerable, the fear of rejection, the fear of appearing needy or weak. The fear of being seen as a burden to the community, instead of being productive. Deep down, not knowing how to ask indicates that we are separated from others ”.

However, the same author warns in her book that the meaning of asking depends on the attitude with which we carry out something that is as natural as giving: “If you ask for help with shame, that means: ‘You have power over me’. If you ask condescendingly, it means: ‘I have power over you.’ But if you ask for help with gratitude, that means, ‘We have the power to help each other.’


Faced with the need to learn this art, Silvia Bueso has established herself in our country as a “solicitor”, that is, she trains in the art of asking people who have difficulties with this dimension of human relationships. First of all, this speaker and coach specifies what it is not to ask in a healthy way. These are some of his conclusions regarding what it is to “ask well”:

  • It is not begging, intimidating or pleading, but serving others while serving yourself.
  • It is not running over relationships, but taking care of them, whether or not there is an agreement.
  • It is not submitting, surrendering or underestimating yourself, but rather understanding relationships as a win-win in which everyone is favored.
  • For this expert, “asking is not shameful, nor is it an improper and reckless act, but a human art that requires attitude, generosity and a lot of heart. ‘


According to Adam Grant’s classification, I have always been part of the donors, many times of the doormat subtype. Since I started working, I understood that my mission on the planet was to give the maximum to as many people as possible. Thus, for many years, I always had time for everyone, even if later I needed time for myself. I invited my friends indiscriminately and was always on guard to save anyone or launch new talents to stardom, no matter what it took to do so.

This way of living, detached to the point of sickness, finally led me to ruin, as I explained to Cristina Benito for her book Money Mindfulness . And at a certain point in that catastrophe that I had caused myself, I was forced to go “to the dark side” and change the donor suit for the recipient. I was scared at the reaction I would get from my three emails, written late at night, explaining my situation and requesting the help I needed.

To my amazement, two of those people thanked me in the reply email for having thought of them. And they didn’t just lend me the money, which I was able to pay back within a year. They also confessed that they believed that they would never have the opportunity to reciprocate for the help that I had given them in other times, and that my request now allowed them that satisfaction. The third person entered the amount immediately after reading the email, without commenting further.

This experience taught me something that is obvious but unknown until then: I was not the only one who was happy to give. I found that other people wanted to show their generosity as well. What happened is that until then they had not had the opportunity to do so.

MindFixes Staff
MindFixes is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and advocating, educating, and serving all people with mental and substance use conditions. MindFixes is determined to persevere, learn, grow, love and laugh through our wellness journey and we invite all to join.


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