Along the years, words can change their meaning and lose their original understanding.
Generous is one of them.
The Oxford dictionaries give an insight into the breadth of change.
They describe generous as “Showing a readiness to give more of something, especially money than is strictly necessary or expected.”
They also mention generosus as the Latin origin. Its original meaning ‘of noble birth’ having since been transformed to ‘noble, magnanimous’ in Old French. This idea remains present in the definition given by the Merriam-Webster: “characterized by a noble or kindly spirit”
It’s the later I find foundational to describe what generous means in a business or marketing context.
I’ve found that including the idea of ‘noble or kindly spirit’ into our work it becomes easier to distinguish free from generous. There, generosity becomes part of establishing a relationship with others, building it on a connection with the other. Such a relationship knows to distinguish between the transaction linked to the work we care about and our expectations of reciprocity.
Assets of generosity are our ability to see the other, to be transparent with them, to be vulnerable and to engage in emotional labor when needed.
Seeing the other means, for example, to see what his needs are, what he cares about if he needs other services than we have to offer or what it is that makes them special.
Being transparent means to be able to share what our services are when they do and don’t correspond to what the other is looking for, to verify what the other is expecting and share when problems arise.
Our ability to be vulnerable is far away from complaining. It is linked to our ability to live with situations outside of our comfort zone, and with the insecurity of being transparent even when it is difficult for us.
What makes all of the above generous is, that it is a wise combination of caring for the other as well as for ourselves.