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The Need to Contribute

 

Explanations > Needs > The Need to Contribute

Need | Example | Related to | Discussion |  So what?

 

 

Need

We often seek to contribute, to help others, to make a difference in the world.

Contribution may be made in many ways, including:

  • Trying to make a difference to customers at work.
  • Helping co-workers succeed.
  • Giving to charity.
  • Volunteering to help others.
  • Helping one's family.
  • Writing or creating other forms of art.

Example

A person feels that they are just a cog in the machine of their workplace. They volunteer in a non-profit organization at the weekend where they feel a far greater sense of fulfilment.

A parent feels responsible for their child and keeps offering to help them with everything. The child gets used to this and keeps asking for help and accepting it. In this way, they become dependent and have later difficulty in transitioning to adulthood. 

Related to

 

Part of Related to
Identity Arousal, Beauty, Completion, Esteem, Meaning

 

Discussion

When we contribute, we connect with the world. When we make a difference, we create meaning for our lives. Contribution goes beyond the self. In this way we connect with the world and hence expand our sense of identity.

Contribution helps connect with others as they thank and trust us. We can often contribute together with others, which can be a key driver of people engaging in voluntary work.

Contribution is a key evolutionary driver that provokes people to help others within the community or tribe. This leads to group success even though the contributor does not necessarily gain much direct benefit from their efforts.

Sometimes contribution can be unhelpful and unwanted as a person desperate to help others intrudes excessively into the other person's life. This problem can be caused when the helper is seen as seeking to control rather than help.

Companies make remarkably little use of this need, working instead on a transactional basis, where the deal is 'do as you are told and you'll get paid'. If they could build on the need to contribute, their employees would be far more energized and give much more.

So what?

The simplest way to persuade is to ask. When asked for help, many are delighted as this gives opportunity to help. All you need to do in return is to be grateful and they will be happy to keep on helping you.

Help people gain the feeling of contribution by showing how what they give is appreciated and helps others or otherwise makes the world a better place.

When you want to contribute, beware of your need for control creeping in as you think you know better and should take over.

A common admonished is to go forward in time to when you are old, to turn and look at your life and ask if it was lived well, and whether you are satisfied with what you have done. This can have a catalytic effect as the person realizes the aimlessness of their current life and so seeks a path of social contribution.

See also

Obligation principle

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