When I was in college, I worked as a production assistant on a highly-rated political news program on MSNBC. The host was one of the first to popularize the shouting matches endemic in the media today.
And my time there introduced me to the importance of generosity in business.
The program included a correspondent who offered me invaluable advice on how to get into the business, introduced me to key players (even the head of NBC News!), and offered feedback on my broadcast reel. He was generous.
One day, he invited me into the news meeting in the host’s office. As I awkwardly tried to roll a chair that was too wide for the doorway and too heavy for a gal in heels into the small crowded room, the host glared at me and bellowed, “What do you think you’re doing?! Get out of here!” He was not . . . generous. In any way.
That was the day I realized that generosity in business isn’t just about comping an overdone steak. It’s about helping others grow.
Throughout my career in communications, I’ve experienced many ways people can be generous that don’t involve money. Here are the top 7.
They say time is money, but really, time is invaluable. And even just a little bit goes a long way. Time is really the most important thing you can give someone. The bit of time the MSNBC reporter gave me may have helped chart the trajectory of my whole life. His advice helped me land my first TV gig, which led to my next job, which led me to my husband, and well, the rest is history.
People who have knowledge shouldn’t see it as a competitive advantage. They should see it as a tool to help others grow and embolden teams. At Weaving Influence, we are all about sharing what we know about clients and industry trends so that we can do our jobs better. For example, within our public relations team, we share media contacts. At other places, PR pros keep those relationships close to the vest.
It’s really hard to get better at something if you don’t know where you need to improve and how. It’s hard to keep up the good work, for that matter, if no one tells you when you’ve done a job well.
I’ve been lucky enough throughout my career to have people share their wisdom and tell me how I can get better and polish my skills. It takes a bit of investment on their end, but it reaps great rewards–for everyone.
After all, handholding takes a lot more time in the long run. Teach ‘em how to fish.
We live in a world of constant communication, and because of this, the art of communication is suffering. Emails are terse and informal. Salutations are rare.
So when someone sends an email that is properly addressed and even includes a “how are you?” or something of that ilk, it’s really refreshing. In the public relations world, it’s particularly nice when media personnel have the courtesy to respond to a pitch, and even give a reason as to why he or she may not be interested at that time.
The generosity is a win-win. It helps the PR professional understand what the media personnel is looking for, and in turn, the media personnel may get a great source for a future story.
There’s a saying I’ve run into a lot these days: “Meet people where they are.” And, basically, it means to have more empathy. It means to be generous in your understanding. Understand that someone may need help finishing a project because they’re overwhelmed or dealing with a sick family member. Or, understand that a new client is brand new to the publicity game and needs extra attention to wrap their arms around the usual ins-and-outs. Being generous in understanding is never a bad thing—in work or in life.
When you talk with Weaving Influence founder Becky Robinson, chances are the word “opportunity” comes up several times. She’s all about creating opportunities for clients and for team members. She’s not afraid to go out on a limb for others and let them try something new. She’ll make sure you have what you need first, and then let you give it go.
Countless times, I’ve seen colleagues and clients grow their skills or brand because of her generosity in giving them chances to broaden their horizons (myself included).
As someone who has a tough time letting her own mistakes go, it’s important to be generous with forgiveness for others and yourself.
We are all human. We mess up. And it’s important to accept that, learn from it, and move on.
Thankfully, I work in an environment where that’s part of the culture. There is no finger-pointing; instead, there’s discussion around it—and I’m a better professional (and person) for it.
How have you experienced (or shown) generosity at work?
Whitney is the public relations director at WI. She started her career in communications as a TV news anchor/reporter in Virginia and Tennessee before switching to public relations. Whitney earned her bachelors in government at Georgetown University, and masters in PR from the University of Tennessee. She enjoys spending time with her family in Knoxville, TN, and running competitively.