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How to Deal With People Who Take Advantage of Your Generosity

By: Brian Kim - April 14, 2010

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I’m a big fan of giving. It’s one of the greatest joys in life.

But there comes a time when you give to the point where certain people begin to see that (or see from the get go) and take advantage of your generosity accordingly.

I think there’s one person like that in every social group. Common adjectives to describe this person range from moocher to leecher to stingy.

This is the person who always asks you to pick up the tab, who conveniently “forgets” their wallet, who guilt trips you into paying for your nights out, who gives you a sob story to further guilt you into giving them more as well.

By far the most powerful weapon in this person’s arsenal is guilt as its use is one of the easiest ways to manipulate somebody.

Before I go any further, let me just say I have no problem with helping a friend in need. If they’re having tough times, take them out. Buy them dinner and a beer.

Here’s where it starts to get bad.

When it becomes HABIT.

And you find it takes some time before you become fully consciously aware of it.

Once you let it get to habit, you’re in a catch 22.

You want to confront the person, but can’t seem to muster up the courage out of fear of losing the friendship. If you do, the person who takes advantage of your generosity has a slew of counter arguments ranging from guilt tripping to shaming in terms of accusing you of not sharing your good fortune, of questioning whether or not you truly are a friend to them. They’ll make you feel guilty for all the rewards you received for your hard work and will feel entitled to it. They’ll flip the tables and accuse YOU of all people, of being stingy.

So what do you do now?

Firs thing is to look back at the beginning.

If the person was manipulative from the get go but you didn’t realize it until now looking back, and somehow he/she became your “friend”, cut it off. You’re better off without them as they will only hold you back in life.

BUT, if that person wasn’t like that before, and just came into hard times, there’s still hope.

The thing is – this habit of you giving to them continuously has become habit – FOR THEM.

They EXPECT you to give to them.

They’ve become CONDITIONED to receiving from you because you do it all the time.

They’ve developed an unhealthy addiction of always receiving, but never giving.

Here’s what you have to realize.

By constantly giving to them, you’ve enabled their habit of dependency on others.

You need to explain to them that it’s not good for them, that every time you give and fulfill their requests, it reinforces the fact that they can’t do anything themselves.

This is a version of the old adage of how it’s better to teach a man to fish instead of giving him a fish everyday.

Instead of giving your friend “fish”, give him help on how he can “fish” for himself.

But if he refuses to do take any action to “fish” for himself and seems content to always take advantage of others to meet his needs and wants, you shouldn’t feel the slightest bit guilty for not caving into his requests.

You have NO OBLIGATION to give to those who refuse to sow themselves.

They need to learn to sow themselves.

Tell them this and you’ll see they have nothing in their arsenal to rebut with because they know it’s true.

Knowing that, they will become desperate and throw a last hail mary pass.

They’ll tell you to give you them one last fish and that’s it. No more. They won’t ask you for anything else.

But that’s not how life works.

You don’t ask for one last cigarette to smoke if you want to quit.

You start quitting right then and there.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving but we live in a world where there are those who will take advantage of our good will, to the point where it becomes very harmful not only to you but to them as well.

Give because you want to.

Give to help people help themselves.

And you will be giving them one of the greatest gifts of all, even if they don’t realize it at first.

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