Why Generosity is Good for Business

recent article published by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley gathers the results of several studies to demonstrate five ways in which giving is actually good for you: It makes you happy, is good for your health, promotes cooperation and social connection, evokes gratitude, and is contagious. While we tend to view generosity as an act of altruism, it turns out the giver actually gains measurable benefits in the process as well.

Here at GrowthPlay, we coach our clients to think of sales as an act of service. Instead of viewing sales through a narrow transactional lens—asking, “What can this person do for me?”—we challenge our clients to expand their view of interactions with colleagues, clients, and potential clients. By asking instead, “What can I do for this person?” and acting in the spirit of service without necessarily knowing whether that decision will pay off now or down the line, we can create new energy and new possibilities as we kick off a virtuous cycle.

Let’s map the benefits listed in the Berkeley article onto the business context. Acts of generosity in your work interactions are good for business because:

Giving makes you happier. It’s as simple as that: helping others makes you feel good, which makes you happier. And clients like to work with happy people.

Giving is good for your health. Studies show that generous behaviors reduce stress hormones, among other physiological benefits. Stress interferes with clear thinking and long-term decision making. Less stress will make you better at your job.

Giving promotes social connection. No matter what business you’re in, referrals are likely your number-one source of new business. Giving creates good will and good word of mouth for you and your services.

Giving evokes gratitude. As you act in service to others, your gratitude for your current clients and the projects you have the chance to work on will grow. That gratitude may even lead to new ideas for how you can serve your clients even better.

Giving is contagious. Your acts of generosity will inspire others to be generous too—generous to you and generous to yet more people, who will in turn give to others. In short, you could start a chain reaction within your field that inspires colleagues and clients to be their best selves. Those folks will remember the person who made them feel good.

It may not be easy to immediately quantify the results of generous behavior in terms of conversions and billings, but science does point to the tangible personal and social benefits of giving. It’s easy to see how embracing this new way of thinking—sales as an act of service—could drive real growth in the long term.

9 Guiding Principles