To Give Is to Receive: The Law of Receptivity

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Go-Giver" by Bob Burg and John D. Mann. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the Law of Receptivity in terms of business? In The Go-Giver, how does Joe learn that to give is to receive?

The Law of Receptivity states that for effective giving, be open to receiving. To give is to receive and if you refuse the gifts of others, you “shut down the flow.” 

Keep reading to learn how Joe from The Go-Giver learned that to give is to receive and how the Law of Receptivity changed his life.

The Law of Receptivity

The Law of Receptivity: For effective giving, be open to receiving.

Joe arrived at Pindar’s mansion for the next meeting, which was to include a “Friday guest” who would explain the final law. Joe and Pindar had lunch but no other guest showed up. In the meantime, they discussed the concept that to give is to receive.

Pindar noted that everyone learns the adage, “It’s better to give than to receive,” which is interpreted to mean that if you’re a good person, you give without thinking of receiving anything.

Joe acknowledged that he often thought about receiving and felt guilty about it.

However, Pindar asserted that the adage is wrong: it’s not better to give than to receive. It’s actually crazy to try to give and not receive because receiving naturally follows giving, to give is to receive.

They go together like inhaling and exhaling—you can’t do only one of them and one isn’t better than the other. To extend the analogy, humans and animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, while plants do the opposite—they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. They give and we receive, and vice versa.

You have to choose to receive—or giving won’t create the success or results you want. You have to close the loop. Joe immediately grasped the concept. He observed that to give is to receive and if you refuse the gifts of others, you “shut down the flow.” 

Babies and children are receptive—in fact, they’re hungry to receive. But people tend to lose that quality later in life. They also lose qualities such as curiosity and belief in yourself—because curiosity and belief in yourself require being open and receptive.

Joe concluded that the secret to success is giving and the secret to giving is being open to receiving.

Joe then asked about the “Friday guest,” who was to explain the last law. Pindar replied that Joe himself was the “Friday guest,” and by articulating that success requires both giving and receiving, he’d just explained the Law of Receptivity himself.

To Give Is To Receive

Back at the office, the third-quarter prospects were looking grim. The corporate broker, Carl Kellerman, called to confirm that the big contract Joe was trying to get had gone to his competitor Neil Hansen.

Joe thought for a moment about the Law of Receptivity, but he didn’t seem to be receiving anything. His coworker Gus told him to be patient and noted that he was a different person than he’d been a week ago.

After everyone else had gone home, as Joe began cleaning up the kitchen area, a feeling of calm—receptivity—came over him. At 6:15 p.m., the phone rang. It was Neil Hansen, who had gotten Joe’s number (a referral) from Ed Barnes. Barnes was the competitor whose name Joe had given to another client, Jim Galloway.

Although Hansen had won the big account Joe had been pursuing, he needed help with another account and Barnes had suggested Joe might be able to provide it. Hansen’s client was buying several hotel chains, rebranding them, and introducing the new enterprise with a luxury cruise. However, the client had lost a critical concession for premium coffee. They needed to have a new supplier onboard in three weeks. Joe said he just might know someone who could fill the bill. The “receptivity” ball had begun rolling. This is how Joe learned “to give is to receive”.

To Give Is to Receive: The Law of Receptivity

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Bob Burg and John D. Mann's "The Go-Giver" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Go-Giver summary:

  • Why giving will take you further than getting
  • The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success
  • How giving isn't the same thing as always being nice

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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